The founder of Emergency, Gino Strada, at the 76th Venice International Film Festival | Photo: ANSA/ETTORE FERRARI
The founder of Emergency, Gino Strada, at the 76th Venice International Film Festival | Photo: ANSA/ETTORE FERRARI

This year's Venice film festival presented a documentary about the work of Italian humanitarian organization Emergency, entitled 'Beyond the Beach: The hope and the hell.' In it, Emergency's founder, Gino Strada spoke out about the unprecedented levels of hatred in society.

Gino Strada is a household name in Italy. As a surgeon he worked around the world, for years offering his services to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in conflict zones and developing countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Peru, Ethiopia, Bosnia and Somalia. In 1994 he co-founded the humanitarian organization Emergency to bring help to civillians affected by war and poverty.

Since its first mission in Rwanda, Emergency has offered help in 18 countries to millions of people. Strada regularly speaks out about issues close to the work of his organization, including the treatment of migrants. Since 2006, Emergency has also offered services within Italy, such as running mobile clinics and health services. It has also worked in earthquake disaster zones in Italy.  

On September 3, Strada spoke at the premiere of the documentary film 'Beyond the Beach: The Hell and the Hope' by Graeme A. Scott and Buddy Squires. The film focuses on Emergency's work in the field of migration around the Mediterranean.

"I do not remember having seen another time when there was so much social hatred, contempt for those [lower down in society]," Strada said. "A poor man is seen almost as if he were the cause of problems for others. There is a great deal of anger and malice."

'War against migrants' 

''When I read the polls I can't believe [some of the numbers I am seeing]," continued Strada. He expressed the belief that not everyone in Italy was thinking the same way as the country's former Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini.

Finding humanity in a situation is important to Strada. Although he couldn't imagine huge political changes ahead with Italy's new government Strada underlined that Italians were known for showing "solidarity spontaneously" and that haters were just a "loud minority."

Strada claims that there is currently a "war against migrants." He said he agreed "with those who have called it a 'new Holocaust.' I see the same will, cruelty and indifference," he stated.

Italian reception policies 'total mistake' 

When asked about Italy's approach to migrant reception, Strada singled out the center-left Democratic Party's former Interior Minister Marco Minniti as the person who began a war on migrants. He said Italians have continued to show solidarity and openess but unfortunately much of that work was not "amplfied [enough] by the media."

Strada believes that the roots of war "can be found in the lack of respect [for human rights] and policies against migrants." He concluded, it is therefore necessary to make sure that in today's world we start, once again, to show solidarity and reception towards those in need of help in order to avoid conflict situations.

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