London Monday, 16 September 2016. Lifejackets have been donated by ActionAid to the International Maritime Rescue Federation to send to the Mediterranean to help adults and children who need rescuing on a daily basis.

The 300 lifejackets – 150 for adults and the rest for children – will be sent to Sea-Watch in Malta who are performing rescues and who are in desperate need of lifejackets for children and babies.

To boost the supply of lifejackets an online fundraising campaign to ‘Keep Children Afloat in the Mediterranean’ is being set up by the IMRF to raise funds for its member NGOs so infant and baby size lifejackets can be made available.

The IMRF’s member organisations, who are maritime search and rescues NGOs working in this region, urgently need children’s lifejackets to ensure that lives are saved. The need for children’s lifejackets is especially great. Every rescue has a high risk of people ending up in the water, and children’s lifejackets are in short supply to rescuers.

A lifejacket, worn by a child during the rescue, will keep a child safe and afloat until on board a rescue vessel. Each lifejacket can be re-used to continue saving lives.

Said Bruce Reid, CEO of the IMRF, "Our mission is to prevent loss of life in the world’s waters so we are really grateful to ActionAid for this donation and we hope by launching the online campaign we’ll be able to raise public awareness about this problem.

The number of children crossing the Mediterranean compared to the same period last year has risen by more than two-thirds. Children and babies’ lives are being put in jeopardy, because they don’t have proper lifejackets. Quite often they are given jackets by the people smugglers, which literally fall apart so the more genuine and robust jackets we can send out, the better."

Johannes Bayer, Head of SeaWatch 2, who will receive the lifejackets said: "We have seen a dramatic increase of families with children and also unaccompanied minors on the deadly central Mediterranean route, during our rescue missions this year with our vessel Sea-Watch 2."

"The rescue, especially of children is often very difficult, this is why we desperately need a safe passage for all. We will be out there to rescue lives as long as needed and therefore the donation of lifejackets including 150 especially for children, is much appreciated and of great help"

Mike Noyes, ActionAid UK’s Head of Humanitarian Response, said: "We are delighted to be working with the International Maritime Rescue Federation to donate lifejackets for their rescue efforts in the Mediterranean. In the last year alone thousands of people, many of them women and children, have been forced to risk their lives and make treacherous journeys across the sea as they’ve travelled to Europe in search of safety. We are delighted that these lifejackets will be used to keep so many refugees, in particular children and young people, safe in the Mediterranean Sea."