Open Arms Proactiva founder Oscar Camps.| PHOTO: ANSA/Giuseppe Lami
Open Arms Proactiva founder Oscar Camps.| PHOTO: ANSA/Giuseppe Lami

Open Arms founder Oscar Camps told ANSA in an interview that saving lives at sea is not about legality but rather "an obligation." He defended the actions of the ship Alan Kurdi run by the German NGO Sea Eye which Italy has so far blocked from disembarking at the island of Lampedusa.

Oscar Camps the founder of the Spanish NGO Open Arms, which rescues migrants in the Mediterranean, told ANSA that interventions at sea and saving those who are shipwrecked is not only a legal question but also a question of obligation. 

"When you save those who are shipwrecked, you have to bring them to a nearby and safe port," said Camps, who was a guest at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia. He told ANSA that the Open Arms' ship has been blocked in the port of Barcelona for three months. "It's a purely administrative block, but we know the reasons for it," he said. "Essentially they are political reasons, because we are in an electoral campaign, not just in Spain but throughout Europe. We think the ship will remain blocked until April 28 because of various administrative excuses, and it's a problem because it's more necessary than ever to return to the Central Mediterranean to save lives," Camps said. 

Camps defends Sea Eye 

Camps defended the actions of the ship Alan Kurdi from the German NGO Sea Eye, which Italy has so far refused permission to dock in Lampedusa. "It's important that they disembark as soon as possible," repeated Camps. He speculated that perhaps they had been trying to go towards Malta because of pressure by the Italian government. Looking at the future, Camps seemed pessimistic, thinking that there will be many more situations "in which international conventions are violated."  "And it's not only Italy doing it; it's also Spain, Malta, all of Europe," he added. 

Camps believes there is no immigration 'emergency'. "If you look at real data, you see that between three and four percent of the world's population migrates, and it has been that way since we began registering data, from the Sixties, after the Second World War," he said. "What the Pope said is right" Camps said he shares the Pope's words that people shouldn't be afraid of migrants. 

"We have to ask ourselves why the majority of people are afraid," Camps questioned. "Because they share really biased messages, and this type of messaging always comes from the same side, from the extreme right, to get more votes. And they continue to differentiate [between] populations. In Spain, many speak of the 60,000 who arrive from Africa on boats, but not about the hundreds of thousands of people from Latin America, he points out.

There's a general manipulation. We're in the era of fake news, in which the Right uses this type of talk and tricks to get more votes.They have a lot of empty talk, therefore to get votes they have to do [this kind of thing]," he said. "What the Pope said is right, but it's the wrong migration policies that bring about these situations. [...] The problem is that politicians think only about their [own political] terms, but migratory policy must be considered in the medium and long term," Camps thinks. 

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