Oscar Camps, founder of the NGO Open Arms: "Spain has left us out of play"
Oscar Camps, (Barcelona, 1963) prefers to wear his shirt upside down when he is in the streets of Lampedusa. If you wear it correctly, you would see the logo of your NGO, Open Arms. its
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- Immigration: The 'excuses' of the Open Arms for not disembarking in Spain: from the "dignity" of immigrants to air travel
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- Politics: Open Arms accuses Carmen Calvo of "misrepresenting" for saying that the ship "did not want to enter Malta and went to Italy"
Oscar Camps , (Barcelona, 1963) prefers to wear his shirt upside down when he is in the streets of Lampedusa. If you wear it correctly, you would see the logo of your NGO, Open Arms. Your ship is only 1 kilometer from the Sicilian island with 99 migrants aboard who do not know, after 19 days adrift, how much longer will they have to wait to touch the mainland. Camps, a vocational lifeguard, after seeing the famous photo of Aylan Kurdi - the Syrian boy dead on the beach - founded the NGO Open Arms four years ago. Interviewed by EL MUNDO says that Salvini is using the Open Arms ship to "generate a great media war" against the Spanish NGO as a "distraction maneuver" for its audience.Italy, with its armed forces, has rescued 110 migrants in Lampedusa in recent days. However, less than 1 kilometers from here, there are 99 people aboard the Open Arms who have not known what will happen to them for 19 days. This is one of the big problems for us. Because some of the rescued on board carry mobile phones with the internet and are aware of everything. And that information runs through the cover. The children who have already landed and are walking here [through the streets of Lampedusa] are writing to them. Which, for the embarked ones, is desperate: "They are free and we are here?" , they think: "For that, we go swimming!", as happened on Sunday. In addition, on board they have already realized that if you get sick or hurt yourself, they will disembark because it is a medical evacuation. Do you know how many possibilities there are in a boat to self-injure? Is Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini making electoral propaganda with the Open Arms? In my opinion, Salvini has made a motion of censure that has gone wrong. And the only way to save yourself is to mount a media war against the poorest. He is not going to talk about organized crime, about the oil mafia, about the millions that his party owes to the Italian state, about the economic recession in his country, about the war in Libya. Salvini what he is doing is using Open Arms to generate a great media war . NGOs have rescued 8% of all people who have arrived in Italy in 2019, but their war is against NGOs, a distraction maneuver. Of course. A media maneuver to justify yourself and your audience. He, in his social networks, boasts that he will block our ship and that he will seize it. Why can Salvini prevent your landing if the Italian Justice authorized it? So much power does Salvini have? The ports depend on the Ministry of Transportation, but if there are migrants on a ship, the assignment of a safe harbor is the responsibility of the Interior Minister, in this case Matteo Salvini. The point is not that Salvini has denied that the safe harbor was Lampedusa, but that he has to assign us a secure port and does not give it to us . For this reason we cannot disembark the people we have aboard, however, the Italian Justice does allow us. On the other hand, Spain has taken too long to react. I have demanded that it act against Italy and against Malta for disobedience of maritime law international. A few days ago I reproached him that we had been kidnapped on the high seas for 17 days with a favorable resolution and that the ship had a Spanish flag with Spanish citizens on board responsible for 130 lives. Meanwhile, the Government putting itself in profile and saying that it was not their problem . A country like France, for example, would have behaved in the same way? Of course not. It took Germany four days to disembark Alan Kurdi. Why did the Spanish government act like this? I don't know. But let's meditate on one thing: Why did Spain block us in January? Because of third States that do not plan to open their ports , that is, Italy and Malta; Spanish authorities blocked the Open Arms for 6 months because it was a ship that, in response to its rescue activity, did not have passenger ship certifications. Now, interestingly enough, they ask us to do a transport boat without having the permits. Suddenly, in addition, Spain intervenes by interfering in our procedures with Italy , when we have just filed a person kidnapping claim before the transalpine Justice. And he has left us out of the game . So now you cannot enter Lampedusa here, nor can you leave. We cannot enter because we do not have permission. Captain Carola Rackete of Sea Watch 3 entered in humanitarian despair. Obviously we do not play the card to enter by force because they would block the ship and we will have the same problems as the Sea Watch 3. How long will this situation last? I do not know. At any time we can have a conato of violence where there could be a dead. You have to keep in mind that we are talking about 99 people. There are very strong clashes , and there are times that we need 5 people to stop a fight. The entire crew is 17 people, but 9 of them are engaged in the work of the ship. And they are not enough, sometimes, to control a hundred people. And how do you do to supply the ship? We come with a boat every day to buy fruit , medicines , vegetables , meat , water . On the ground there is a team of logists responsible for the ship's lack of anything. What would be the desirable European model for rescue? The problem is that a coordination of European Union countries has not been articulated, nor They have established quotas that allow an automatic distribution of people rescued in the international waters of the Central Mediterranean. A place where nobody wants to put their nose . That is why the Libyan militias are responsible for going there to do that job. We call them "coast guard" but they are financed by Europe and Italy gives them the boats. But they are militias, whose task is to have to stop the kickboats and return them to Libya . Then they put the migrants to the detention centers that Europe also finances , where the jailers systematically violate the people who are there. We know this because they tell us, we have rescued people who have been to a detention center four times and have had to pay for the exit: the coast guard and the mafias. A business. And this business is going well for Europe. A provocation: Are you doing politics to sensitize Europe about the migration phenomenon? All we do is what Europe does not do or what administrations do not do: put light and where they don't want it to be ... and put boats where they don't want ships to be. Our mission is not to rescue. It is not our goal because for us it is a legal obligation. Our goal is to monitor, protect . We often activate the Italian and Maltese authorities with what we are in their territorial sea. What we do to put on the table all the irregularities that exist. To get the attention of who, specifically? For the European Union to intervene. For the European Commission to intervene. So that Public Opinion knows and knows . That is why we are the only NGO that always has at least two journalists on board. Until recently, here in Lampedusa, the military of the Italian Armed Forces were proud to rescue migrants. The problem is that in Italy in June 2018, the Salvini League seized power by joining the 5 Star Movement and dismissed the dome of the Italian Coast Guard and began to change many things. Currently, maritime law is being breached and many kennels are being made . And someone has to be there to report it. Likewise, in the Italian Armed Forces, there is an important dissent against Salvini. At this crucial moment, what is Europe playing? It is clear that European immigration pressure passes through Greece, Italy and Spain. The rest of Europe seems to ignore that pressure and leaves these three countries alone . Italy had a magnificent operation, Mare Nostrum, but it cost them 300,000 euros a day. Italy asked for more money but the European Union set it aside . That operation disappeared and without it thousands of people died. Then Sofía and Tritón followed, that although the rescue was not their objective, their ships ended up rescuing equally, by obligation of law. There were other times, those in which we were coordinated by the Italian Coast Guard itself. Suddenly, we have become the enemy. When was the idea of Open Arms born? With the famous photo of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian boy from the beach. It struck me a lot. I have a son of the age that Aylan would be today , seven years old. I saw my son there, in that photo. At the beginning of founding Open Arms, we sent letters to everyone, but nobody took us seriously. Then, everyone wanted to take the picture with us. After our experience in Lesbos (Greece), when we saw that many migrants were dying in the Central Mediterranean, we started operating here. Is it worth it? In my career I have seen children sinking with their eyes open and knowing that I would not get to time . And live with that. So that later a government or a minister arrives and tells you that you are a trafficker. They have no clue what it is. Let them go up to the Open Arms! You will see how the pain is chewed . Right now I am facing two governments. And they want to take away the flag. The price is very high. When will you stop? Until a permanent military or civil rescue operation is established in the Mediterranean. But with Salvini it will be difficult. Salvini has the days counted. Now he could lose the majority in the Senate and his immunity. As the Italian Justice admits to prosecution our demand for kidnapping of person, Salvini will be cornered.
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