A Rickmansworth man has headed to Greece to help with the refugee search and rescue mission.
After seeing distressing images in the news of countless refugees being washed up dead on shores in 2015 and 2016, Padraig Goggin decided he wanted to help.
Having worked at a water sports centre in Ireland, the 32-year-old from Church Street decided he would draw on his knowledge of water safety and volunteer at the Emergency Response Centre International.
The centre is a non-profit organisation that provides emergency response and humanitarian aid in times of crisis. It currently has three programmes running in Greece involving search and rescue, education and refugee camp coordination.
Mr Goggin said: “Thousands of refugees make the perilous crossing over the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Lesvos, and for the past couple of years I have been somewhat distressed seeing and reading about refugees who were not getting support from the EU.
“More than 5,000 people fleeing war and famine drowned in the Mediterranean in 2016 alone and people are still making the crossing now, with many still losing their lives.
“I initially felt helpless but realised my background and experience could in some way help the situation, but this is the first time I have ever done anything like this.”
Mr Goggin will spend two weeks in Greece scanning for boats and monitoring radio communications between UN warships and Greek and Turkish military. He will also assist at the Tara Kepe refugee camp in Lesvos, ensuring residents are safe and comfortable.
He said he has been “completely overwhelmed” by the generosity of his friends and family.
He said: “I set a fundraising target of £500 but I’ve passed that now. People’s support has been incredible and it’s great to see so much kindness still exists.
“Hopefully I can continue to raise more and more money. It all goes directly to the ECRI who will continue to work as a shore response but also help build on their ambitions to assist with teaching of the refugees at the camps.”
Mr Goggin funded the trip himself. If you would like to donate, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/padraig-goggin.