There are many generations of young people who have worked in the beaches of Dénia in its surveillance and relief service. Some of them saw it as a good opportunity with which to earn money on vacations, pay for his studies with it and be able to end up dedicating themselves to what they really wanted. Others, on the other hand, discovered a vocation on the beach, that of helping people who alone are not worth it in the sea. Our beaches are relatively easy to monitor: that no one drowns within the bathing area (the first 200 meters). But, when you've been around long enough, you end up wondering who's watching and saving those beyond the line of yellow buoys.
Ricard Llompart is one of our lifeguards whose solidarity is short of breath in just 20 kilometers of beach. At the age of 18, he won the title in the Dénia Red Cross that has allowed him to participate in a dozen seasons, three of them as head of the position, watching over those who enter our coastline. He discovered his vocation, the sea, working on the proximity chairs, so he decided to continue training in lifeguarding and, at the same time, obtain the title of height skipper.
It was with the migratory crisis resulting from the war of the Islamic State against Syria when he realized that the Mediterranean coast It wasn't just the first 200 meters that we see from the beach. And that behind the line of buoys there were more people who needed help, and much less willing to provide it.
On February 13 Ricard got on the Open Arms, ship whose trajectory does not require presentation. As a lifeguard for the Catalan NGO, she has been able to reach distances from the usual beaches that cannot be measured by kilometers or miles. A totally different world.
His mission took him to the coast of Libya, current point through which more people enter the Mediterranean. They have performed in it for a month and a half, always 30 miles from land in order to avoid legal problems, such as incomprehensible penalties for human trafficking. There are too many people interested in these types of NGOs ceasing their activity and they enjoy unfair legislation that literally suffocates people who need help.
These accusations also come from certain sectors of politics that point to them as mafias, knowing that it is false. It is something that, when mentioning it, especially infuriates the lifeguard, so he tells us how the real mafia. These charge up to more than 1.000 euros to people in need (life savings) to give them a place in boats with almost no security measures. These people decide to face the sea because on land what they have found is war, hunger and persecution (many because of their sexual orientation). There are also more and more calls environmental refugees, who flee from the areas that suffer the most from the consequences of pollution (especially the West).
Many others set out in search of a better shore than theirs. "They think they will be better off in Europe, but most of the time it is false." When they arrive they find the harsh reality that life is going to be even worse, suffering, in addition to precariousness, poor reception and a lot of racism.
The hard task of preventing people from dying looking for a better life
“I would like to emphasize one thing. We seafarers have a law (moral and not moral, because it is a law) by which we cannot omit helping someone who is at risk. If you receive a radio warning that there are people near you asking for help, you have a legal and moral duty to go and help those people. We are not there so that people have a better life, we are so that they do not die in the fucking Mediterranean.
Once they are rescued from the water, these refugees are usually taken to the port of Sicily, where they study for months the situation of each one of them. Once on land, his aided crew, the work of Ricard and his companions has finished, but instead of resting they return to the sea in search of more people who need his help. They are not more than a ten boats those in charge of saving so many desperate lives that enter the Mediterranean without looking back.
Given the most recent news, with European countries showing more solidarity and prone to accepting refugees due to the war in Ukraine, I cannot help but ask if they have not shown more interest in these people who migrate by sea. Ricard lets out a sad laugh that shows the harsh reality: they have built borders between people who have lost them, having created different kinds of refugees (those that yes and those that don't). «Every day people die and nothing happens, because they are from around there, and that is not the case. Nobody should stay in the Mediterranean.
These days he has rested on this side of the line of buoys, but part of him is still out at sea, assuming everything he has lived through and that he was not able to see from the Dénia watchtower. His break, however, will be short-lived. Every day you see hands on the Mediterranean looking for others to hold on to. And Ricard is expecting another boat next week from which to offer his.