British band Coldplay partners with refugee and migrant charity

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Lead singer Chris Martin (C) of Coldplay performs with band members during the halftime show of the NFL's Super Bowl 50 between the AFC Champion Denver Broncos and the NFC Champion Carolina Panthers at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, 7 Feb 2016

Lead singer Chris Martin (C) of Coldplay performs with band members during the halftime show of the NFL's Super Bowl 50 between the AFC Champion Denver Broncos and the NFC Champion Carolina Panthers at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, 7 Feb 2016

NEW YORK - British rock band Coldplay has thrown its support behind a Malta-based humanitarian charity that saves migrants in search-and-rescue missions at sea, the charity said on Thursday.

The musicians, known for hits such as "Clocks" and "Viva La Vida", kicked off their new role as patrons of MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) with an online fundraising film.

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"We feel duty-bound to raise awareness about this noble mission," the Grammy Award-winning band said in a statement.

In the film, entitled "Rescue Humanity", the band's lead vocalist, Chris Martin, sings an a cappella rendition of Coldplay's hit song "Don't Panic" over footage depicting distressed migrants at sea being rescued by MOAS staff.

"But for an accident of geography, those people could be us and we could be them," Martin said in a statement.

MOAS has saved the lives of more than 30,000 migrants making perilous journeys from northern Africa and the Middle East to Europe, often on flimsy rafts and boats, the charity said.

In 2017 so far, some 5,500 migrants and refugees had entered Europe by sea by the end of January, with over three quarters arriving in Italy and the remainder in Greece, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

More than 250 were believed to have drowned, IOM data shows.

Migration flows are expected to increase later this year once the weather warms.