NEW YORK – Proactiva Open Arms, a Spanish NGO which has helped and rescued some 37,000 migrants in the Aegean and central Mediterranean Sea, received on Sunday the 2017 ALBA/Puffin Award for human rights activism in New York.
The ALBA/Puffin is one of the world’s most prominent human rights awards, awarded annually by the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA) under the patronage of the Puffin Foundation.
ALBA Executive Director Marina Garde praised the Proactiva team for helping refugees seeking a better life in Europe.
After 17 months and during two different missions, Proactiva Open Arms has helped about 20,500 migrants on Lesbos Island, Greece, and rescued about 17,000 in the central Mediterranean Sea.
Proactiva’s director Oscar Camps told EFE that the $100,000 prize will help a lot in organization’s mission to protect human rights and save people’s lives at sea.
Proactiva’s Mission Chief Gerard Canals said that the countries which those refugees have fled from are the scene of devastating abuses which lead to tragic human stories such as girls fleeing from their families to avoid being mutilated.
During the ceremony, Canals recalled how the organization was founded, when a team of rescuers decided to conduct a rescue at Lesbo Island after seeing photographs of drowned children. He also thanked people for their support as about 96 percent of the organization’s funding comes from private donations.
Camps added that the ultimate objective of Proactiva is to achieve a rescue mission in the Mediterranean Sea so that migrants can seek refuge without having to deal with murderous mafias.
Canals called for a fight against those who violate human rights in the world and asked the EU governments to guarantee those rights, rather than pursuing their economic and political interests.
The organization also criticized the European Union for, instead of facilitating rescues, reinforcing its military action to establish border controls.