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Italy: Rescue ship situation 'critical' and Spanish deputy PM 'misleading' - Proactiva Open Arms

1 20.08.2019 Инфо

M/S Rescuers arriving in harbour on boat, Lampedusa
SOT, Riccardo Gatti, Captain of Astral and Proactiva Open Arms Head of Mission (Italian): "On board, now we will go back on board we just got off, the situation is critical. There is a level of tension, of nervousness for the people on board which is fairly important. Psychologists continue to convey the concern about what could happen, but we see that on the other side continue to be negatives. To implement the evacuation of these people, we are 800m (2,625ft) away, in the condition we have on board we obviously cannot take the responsibility to move, we cannot take the responsibility to leave because we do not know what could happen. And the offers that we have seen coming from Spain are evidently unacceptable, we cannot do 1,000 kilometres (1,609 miles), even escorted, even if they give us food in these conditions of insecurity because it has been proved, documented, there are medical and psychological reports that demand and continue to demand evacuations due to the state of the people on board and because it has been proven that any change in the fragile balance that you are able to maintain on board trying to be a bit of a juggler with the psychological balance of people that unleashes reactions that are first and foremost that you don't know what could happen and evidently uncontrollable because these are people that have been suffering for a long time."
SOT, Riccardo Gatti, Captain of Astral and Open Arms Head of Mission (Italian): "What the Spanish deputy prime minister is saying is totally misleading, what happened is that the last rescue of 39 people was operated in the Sar-Maltese area and Maltese officials sent a patroller to transfer the people onto their board to then let them disembark on Malta. We were preparing the transfer of the people, what happened? There has been a retaliation, a situation of nervousness an violence on board which is why we had to halt everything because we understood that people who had been on board for eight days could not comprehend why, why them yes and not us? And for the security of the people on board we had to stop that operation. Evidently all this was communicated via radio as well as in written form and via telephone to the Maltese authorities. Therefore, that they say that we negated to give the people to Malta is evidently sending a misleading message and it does not represent the truth of the situation."
SOT, Riccardo Gatti, Captain of Astral and Open Arms Head of Mission (Italian): "We are absolutely not waiting for any political appointment, we do not do politics, we are rescuers, these guys are rescuers, nurses and what they do is rescue at sea, humanitarian protection and evidently defence of human rights. What we do is simply that, within a frame of legality, within a frame of regulatory obligations which are those that say that when people are rescued at sea, you have to disembark them as soon as possible in a safe harbour. Therefore, in a safe harbour where you get to as soon as possible, in that moment the position of the rescue the close harbour was Malta, was Italy and we came to Italy, full stop. We don't do politics, then if they want to use us, or politicians use migration to do politics, that is another field, another thing of which moreover we are very critical. We think it is very shameful to use people for, the life of people to do politics, disgusting."
M/S Rescuers on boat
C/U Rescuer and rescuers on boat
SCRIPT
The situation on board the Proactiva Open Arms migrant rescue ship is "critical" according to its Italian head of mission Riccardo Gatti in an interview recorded from Lampedusa on Monday.
He also accused the Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo of "misleading" comments suggesting the vessel refused to hand over migrants to Malta.
"We had to halt everything because we understood that people who had been on board for eight days could not comprehend why, why them yes and not us? And for the security of the people on board we had to stop that operation," said Gatti, who defended the Spanish-run charity as humanitarian and apolitical.
The captain warned that people should be allowed to disembark as soon as possible, which is also required by law, as the situation is very tense on board as "you don't know what could happen and [it is] evidently uncontrollable because these are people that have been suffering for a long time."
The rescue vessel run by Proactiva Open Arms has been anchored off Lampedusa, an island between Sicily and Northern Africa, since August 1.
The Italian government, led chiefly by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, has so far refused docking permission for the boat, causing a stand-off.
The boat initially had 147 migrants on board when it reached Italian waters. In the last few days, 40 migrants have been transferred by Italian coast guard vessels to Lampedusa, including those who were considered ill or minors.