Open Arms founder denounces EU plot to prevent arrival of migrants


BUENOS AIRES (Sputnik) – The founder of the Catalan NGO Proactiva Open Arms, carscar Camps, said during an exclusive interview with Sputnik that the European Union (EU) operates through the border countries to return people in Libya attempt to reach the European coasts try to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

"There is an EU plot for the Libyans to intervene and say nothing," said the rescuer in dialogue with this agency during a visit he made to the Argentine capital to participate in a congress.

The humanitarian organization that he directs has saved the lives of more than 60,000 people in the Aegean Sea and in the central Mediterranean in the past four years, while maritime rescue teams from European countries remain in their territorial waters and the EU or nations like Spain, Greece, Italy, Malta or France hamper rescue efforts.
"Until March 2018, the Italian coast guard received the notice of a drifting boat and so transmitted it to the ships that were there, but since the arrival of Matteo Salvini (Italian Vice President and Interior Minister until September) he called directly to the Libyans, "warned Camps.

This political decision "to silence what happens" has the connivance of the EU, which expels Libya to people who have come to step on its territory in what is known as hot returns, an illegal practice that violates international regulations of human rights.

This was recognized in a report earlier this year by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), noting that 85% of migrants found in international waters were returned to Libya.
After 150 people died in July off the coast of this country in what was the worst shipwreck known since May 2017, Acnur spokesman Charlie Yaxley called on the EU to resume maritime rescue operations and recognize the crucial role played by organizations such as Proactiva Open Arms.
Insensitive to these calls, and "as the EU has no legal entity to make an agreement that unites the entire bloc, there are agreements from several countries with Libya, which is a country at war, so that its coast guard enters its territorial waters and take people, "said Camps.

Rome renewed this month a memorandum with Libya in force since 2017 that has financed its coast guard with more than 150 million euros in order to intercept migrants at sea and return them to their territory, despite "the horrendous abuses "and" the continuing reports of disappearances and trafficking in human beings "of migrants who are sent to detention centers in this country, according to Acnur.

Rescue boats

In June 2016, Proactiva Open Arms received as a donation a luxury yacht that transformed into a rescue ship, the Astral, and that since then sails in the waters of the Aegean Sea to assist refugees trying to reach the Greek islands from Turkey, mainly Lesbos, located just nine kilometers away.
After the agreement signed by the EU and Turkey in 2016, the mafias use other longer and more dangerous routes in the central Mediterranean, with vessels that leave from Libya towards the distant Italian islands of Lampedusa, 300 kilometers, or Sicily, to 500
Since July 2017, the Catalan NGO has added the Open Arms to the rescue teams in order to sail this sea, being "one of the most important maritime corridors in the world with the annual passage of 97,000 merchant ships crossing the Suez Canal and the Strait of Gibraltar and give notice of how much boat they find, "Camps contextualized.

Up to twelve rescue ships came to monitor the central Mediterranean, which today only has the presence of the Open Arms, the Ocean Viking ship of Doctors Without Borders, and a group of Basques who have gone out to sea with a fishing boat.
"The rescue is mandatory, but Europe not only does not promote any rescue operation, but also the European Parliament knocked down in October by only two votes a resolution that established search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean," said the director of Proactiva Open Arms

The European Convention on Human Rights, the Geneva Convention, the Convention on the Prevention of Torture or the International Law of the Sea are international instruments ratified by the 28 EU states that are systematically violated "while we finance armed groups so that forcibly retain people in foreign countries that are at war or to enter European waters and take them away, "he added.

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