By Stefan Grobe
This is Miguel Roldan. He is a Spanish firefighter who says he helped save thousands of lives from drowning in the Mediterranean. But Italy is accusing him of aiding illegal immigration and working with human traffickers. He faces up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted.
Roldan, speaking to Euronews while he was in Brussels to share his story with the European Parliament, remembered some of the scenes he experienced.
“A mother was constantly pointing at the boat and repeating: my baby, my baby, my baby, my baby…
“When I boarded the ship already half-sunk, not only was her baby dead, but a lot of other people too.
“The bodies were floating. When I looked at the mother and made a sign that her baby was dead, she was looking down.
“That look of resignation and sadness, that look is the one I took with me and I will never forget it.”
Roldan insists that he always respected the law and waited for the Italian authorities’ green light to intervene.
He found a sympathetic audience in Brussels.
“I believe that there is a clear criminalization of NGOs, and they criminalise them not only because they do the work that we should do as institutions, to save lives, but above all, because they are uncomfortable witnesses, uncomfortable witnesses of what is happening,” said Miguel Urban, a Spanish MEP.
In 2017, dozens of rescue ships from different NGOs were operating in the Mediterranean. Today not a single one is authorised to return to the sea.
- Migrants Forum in Asia