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MOAS rescue charity receives record donations after boy photo

AFP  |  Rome 

The charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station, which helps rescue migrants in the Mediterranean, said today it had received a record 600,000 euros in donations since the publication of a photograph of the drowned Syrian toddler.

"There is an enormous response from the public, the tide of indifference is shifting," said Christian Peregrin, spokesperson for the charity which was set up in Malta in 2013 by an American-Italian couple.

Over 10,000 donors have come forward over the past 48 hours, largely from the United States and Britain, but also from countries including Brazil, Germany and Turkey, Peregrin told AFP.

"It's not a one-off... Many are setting up monthly donations," he said, describing the rush of activity which saw the charity receive 600,000 euros ($66,825).

Founded by Catholic couple Christopher and Regina Catrambone after Pope Francis's appeal against "the globalisation of indifference", MOAS in 2014 charted the "Phoenix", a 40-metre long boat which rescued 3,000 migrants in two months.

After a winter pause, the operation began again in May this year in partnership with Doctors Without Borders, and the "Phoenix" has since saved over 8,000 people.

On Friday, it brought another 332 people, including 113 children, to safety in the southern Italian port of Reggio Calabria.

MOAS needs 400,000 euros a month to operate and until now "10,000 euros donated in a day would have been a good day", Peregrin said.

The charity mainly runs on help from large donors, but the publication this week of harrowing images of three-year-old Syrian toddler Aylan Shenu, found dead on a Turkish beach, sparked a flurry of fresh contributions.

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First Published: Fri, September 04 2015. 19:07 IST