Spanish NGO 'Proactiva Open Arms' rescue ship docked at the port of Burriana in eastern Spain's Castellon province, 14 June 2018, prior to escorting SOS Mediterranee's 'Aquarius', on its way to Valencia carrying 630 migrants rescued off Libya. EPA/DOMENECH CASTELLO
Spanish NGO 'Proactiva Open Arms' rescue ship docked at the port of Burriana in eastern Spain's Castellon province, 14 June 2018, prior to escorting SOS Mediterranee's 'Aquarius', on its way to Valencia carrying 630 migrants rescued off Libya. EPA/DOMENECH CASTELLO

The Spanish NGO Open Arms said it "can't trust" Italy, due to its recent policies on migration.

Riccardo Gatti, head of the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms and commander of the ship Astral, has a soft voice when he tells of his three years at sea rescuing migrants. But his voice grows firm when he tells the story of the rescue of Josefa, who was at sea for 48 hours, and he doesn't mince words. 


"Italy can't be trusted," he said. "It's like going out to sea and not knowing how it will end. Certain failures, certain actions, lead to the death of people," he said. But he said he isn't surprised at the strength of what he called the "campaign against the NGOs". "The effect created by messages talking about NGOs as 'businesses' or 'traffickers' is a strategy, and it was built slowly. If you repeat a lie 2,000 times, it becomes reality," Gatti said. 

The warning in Josefa's eyes 

Gatti's memories of the rescue of Josefa are still fresh in his mind. "Everyone can see them, and yet there are still those who have doubts. I've never seen anything like it. A boat destroyed despite a calm sea and dead people on board, only one alive. The Libyan patrol boats in recent days have caused people's deaths," Gatti said. Josefa's eyes are a warning to the consciences of all. 

"When we saw her condition, and not being able to dock in Italy, we decided to bring her to Spain for treatment. Salvini's decision to give the port of Catania after we communicated that we were leaving doesn't matter. There are too many promises that make it so that the interior minister's was a decision or an arrangement with ulterior motives," Gatti said. 

Port closures unacceptable 

"Closing the ports without even doing so officially, and doing it on the backs of migrants, is unacceptable," Gatti said. He said despite the fact that "no one called us to rescue, we still went". "And we documented everything like we always do. Witnesses, six journalists and Marc Gasol," an NBA player who has become an Open Arms volunteer. "And I wish to recall that in three years of open investigations on us, not one person is in jail," he said.
 

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