A U.S. warship saved a group of drowning migrants. But they had nowhere to go.

Imagine you're serving on a U.S. ship in the Mediterranean when you come upon a group of people drowning.

Their boat is disintegrating and dozens of people are struggling to stay afloat. Another dozen have already perished; their bodies float in the water around the survivors. What do you do?

Both human kindness and international law dictate that you help them, of course. And according to The Daily Beast, that's just what sailors on the USNS Trenton did when they came across a group of migrants whose boat had failed off the coast of Libya. The Navy warship brought the 40 survivors aboard and offered them food, water, and medical care.


The problem was that they didn't know what to do with them next.

A child being rescued in the Mediterranean in 2016. Thousands of people drown each year trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach safer shores. Photo via Aris Messinis/Getty Images.

They couldn't return them to Libya because migrants were fleeing violence there, and the law required they be dropped at a "safe harbor." Transferring them to an nongovernmental organization's migrant rescue ship bound for Italy would make sense, but Italy's new interior minister was in the midst of enacting strong anti-immigrant policies, including turning away migrant rescue ships at entry ports. Other nations have been tightening their borders as well, so this U.S. warship has found itself in the middle of a European standoff over migration with nowhere to take a group of vulnerable people.

The global migration crisis has led to complex questions with no simple answers.

More than 1.8 million migrants have arrived in Europe since 2014, most of them fleeing violence and conflict in North Africa and the Middle East. Globally, there are 65 million displaced people who have been forced to leave their homes to find safety.

We are facing a global refugee crisis of massive proportions with no simple solutions.

Photo via AFP Contributor/Getty Images.

It should be a given that when a human being is suffering or in danger, other human beings step up and help out.

But on a global level, who should be stepping up and helping refugees and to what extent? How do you share the load when some nations flatly refuse? At what point do wealthy nations say, "We'd love to help, but we're all tapped out?" And at what point do you look into the face of an innocent child trapped in the most tragic circumstances and tell them, "Sorry, find help someplace else"?

These are questions that governments and individual citizens find themselves grappling with. In the meantime, thousands of people are dying each year trying to get to safety.

The refugee crisis is horrible — but not hopeless. We can use our voices and our wallets to save lives.

Governments have a host of issues to consider when making hard decisions about where to place resources and how to mold policy. But ultimately, they work for the citizenry. One thing we can do to help the most vulnerable is to let our government know we want our country to do more.

Under the Trump administration, the U.S. has cut the number of refugees we take by more than half, from Obama's 2017 goal of 110,000 to a 2018 limit of 45,000. According to the International Rescue Committee, we are actually slated to bring in less than half that number of refugees by the end of 2018.

A Syrian family fled their homeland due to a brutal civil war. Photo via Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

Just so we're clear, George W. Bush maintained an annual refugee ceiling of 70,000, even after the worst terrorist attack in history occurred on our soil. If we hit President Donald Trump's 45,000 refugee limit, that's still just one refugee per 10,000 Americans. And as Trump loves to tout, our economy is booming with unemployment at historic lows. Why aren't we doing more?

It's time to get on the horn to our government and ask that question.

Supporting organizations that help refugees is the most efficient way to provide immediate aid.

A number of highly rated organizations offer aid to refugees in various ways. Here are some you can donate to or volunteer with:

International Rescue Committee. The IRC aids refugees and people whose lives are impacted by conflict and disaster.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The UNHCR protects and support refugees at the request of a government or the U.N. itself.

Doctors Without Borders. An international humanitarian organization, it provides medical aid where needs are the greatest.

Refugees International. An independent organization (which means it receives no funding from governments or the U.N.), Refugees International advocates for protection and assistance for displaced people and promotes solutions to the refugee crisis.

Mercy Corps. A global nongovernmental humanitarian aid organization, Mercy Corps helps people recover from crises due to economic, environmental, social, and political instability.

Humanity needs help, and those of us in developed, stable nations are in the best position to provide it. We know there are complex problems that need solving to turn the tide, but until we figure that out, let's keep pulling people from the water and doing what we can to keep them safe.

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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.