A rescue carried out by Ramsgate’s RNLI crew for 26 people stranded on a vessel after trying to make the Channel crossing to the UK last weekend has seen a swell of backing for the lifesaving charity.
The group were picked up by the RNLI crew on Saturday (July 3). Ramsgate’s all-weather lifeboat was tasked at 11.48am to a drifting vessel around 24 miles east of Ramsgate. The volunteer crew recovered the 26 casualties and returned to Ramsgate at 4pm that afternoon.
The incident was caught on film and then posted to social media by former Ukip and Brexit party leader Nigel Farage who claimed the RNLI had become a “taxi service for illegal immigration.”
The comments were reported in national papers including the Daily Mail.
But the RNLI has responded to say its lifesaving role is ‘humanitarian’ rescuing ‘vulnerable people in distress.’
The statement says: “The RNLI is an emergency service and will continue to launch to those in peril at sea when requested to by HM Coastguard, the government agency that initiates and co-ordinates our UK maritime search and rescue activity.
“We are a lifesaving charity and, under maritime law and the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS), our volunteer lifeboat crews will always go to the aid of those in danger at sea.
“We want to be absolutely clear that we are incredibly proud of the humanitarian work our volunteer lifeboat crews do to rescue vulnerable people in distress.
“HM Coastguard and the Irish Coast Guard can request any of our lifeboats to launch to an incident. Our lifeboats operate under international maritime law, which states we are permitted and indeed obligated to enter the waters of other territories for search and rescue purposes. Where we believe there is a risk to life at sea, we will always launch. We are not border control and, once a rescue is complete, we hand over responsibility for casualties to UK Border Force and/or the police.
“Our charity exists to save lives at sea. Our mission is to save every one. Our lifesavers are compelled to go to those in need without judgement of how they came to be in the water. They have done so since the RNLI was founded in 1824 and this will always be our ethos.
“We have been overwhelmed by the supportive messages we’ve received. We would like to thank you wholeheartedly – your kindness means so much to us. It normally costs around £180m each year to run our charity – all funded by our generous supporters. We have always been and remain focused on our core purpose: to save lives at sea.”
If you would like to donate go to rnli.social/SaveEveryOne.