Greens spokesperson for Immigration Senator Sarah Hanson-Young will be joining the Migration Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) in one of their search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea.
“The United Nations estimates that there is currently more refugees looking for safety around the world than ever before on record,” Sarah Hanson-Young said.
“People seeking asylum and families fleeing war and violence is a global problem.
“After visiting Geneva and speaking about Australia's current policies with the UNHCR I have now headed to Italy I see first-hand how Europe is dealing with the large numbers of people crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
“Last weekend alone over 1500 people were saved crossing the dangerous sea, many of them families with children from Syria, Eritrea and Somalia, and Afghanistan.
"Seeing how the Italians and their neighbours respond to boat arrivals in comparison to Australia's attitude is eye-opening.
"Safety and protection is first and foremost in responding to refugees, not turn-backs or the punishment of detention.
“Today I am joining the crew on board one of the key search and rescue vessels, the MY Phoenix run by MOAS.
"We will be at sea for as many days as needed to rescue families who are in distress on the high seas.
"I am extremely fortunate to have been invited on board, to witness first-hand the rescue of refugees who have left everything behind in fear of their lives.
"Here in Europe the Governments work in collaboration with NGOs to help save lives and assist refugees.
"There is a commitment to transparency and truth in the response to the refugee crisis here in Italy. There is no push for secrecy or cover up of boats arrivals or interception - unlike the Abbott Government’s secret Operation Sovereign Borders policy.
"We must question why the Abbott government is so secret. Is it because if the public knew the truth they would be horrified at Australia pushing away boats with children on board?”
NOTE: The Senator will depart with the Phoenix from the port of Reggio Calabria, Italy on Friday afternoon (Central European Summer Time).
Internet and some phone coverage will be available on board the vessel.