"We come from Lesbos. We are a group of rescuers.”
They have come to pay him a visit in return. They are the volunteers from Proactiva Open Arms, the NGO formed by professional rescuers. They have been working since last September off the coast of Lesbos, saving refugees from drowning. Unfortunately, often they do not.
Founder, Proactiva Open Arms
"Our intention was to bring a bit of the reality of Lesbos with us. We have brought the life-vest of a 6- year-old girl that we were unable to rescue. She obviously drowned, along with her family. B-ROLL He was very moved when I explained the story. He grabbed her life-jacket and took it with him. I gave him a letter with a brief summary of what we have seen, what we have lived and what we want him to do and how we want him to act B-ROLL and ask him to go to Brussels to do the same thing he did in Lesbos.”
In fact, they claim that the European authorities put more resources on deporting people rather than saving lives.
Proactive Open Arms
"There is a lot of interest from the EU in putting resources into the act of deportation by hiding a reality that they do not know how to manage, instead of giving any resources to ensure safety. There is no guaranteed safe passage and zero hope of being rescued if they are marooned at sea. And that's what we feel is most indignant at this time.”
The volunteers from Proactive Open Arms are the first to touch the plight of refugees hands. They note that the most difficult thing to forget is the children.
Proactive Open Arms
"This is a drama that touches us all, especially those who are on the front line and have seen this coming. Not only have we seen it coming but sometimes we regretted having been able to rescue the children without being able to rescue their parents from shipwrecks and yes we have left some orphaned children in a country that is not their own, in a continent that is not theirs and at the mercy of administrations who do not know what they are doing.”
The Pope's visit to Lesbos came just days after the treaty signed by the EU and Turkey for Europe to expel undocumented refugees. Since Proactiva stands against the rocky course this treaty has taken. It has not decreased the flow of refugees. In fact, now refugees are forced to find alternative and more dangerous routes to reach Europe. In the last 48 hours, more than 5,000 refugees have been rescued in the Mediterranean.
This is why Proactiva points to Pope Francis decision to take several families of refugees to Italy with him not just as a simple act of charity but as a lesson for a continent dominated by fear.