‘My work is actually about humanizing politicians’
—Oscar Camps is a lifeguard, businessman and activist, best known for being the founder and director of the Badalonese NGO Proactiva Open Arms. He was the owner of a lifeguard company established in Badalona, near Barcelona, in Spain, called Proactiva Aquatic Services, which was dedicated to maritime services, mainly aquatic safety and lifeguards.
In the context of the refugee crisis and the Syrian Civil War, when thousands of people lost their lives trying to reach Europe, Camps decided to go to Lesbos, a Greek island located near Turkey, to assess the situation on the land.
The key event that motivated him to get moving was the publication of the images of the corpse of Aylan Kurdi, a three-year-old boy who had drowned trying to make the journey with his family. As the company had a lot of experience in beach surveillance, he and a few colleagues decided to apply their life-saving knowledge to help rescue refugees trying to reach the European Union via the Aegean Sea. In September 2015, he decided to found the NGO Proactiva Open Arms.
Media from all over Europe reported on the NGO’s activity on Lesbos, as a result of which Camps came to visit the European Parliament to speak on behalf of the refugees.
He was named European of the Year 2019 by the American magazine Reader’s Digest in recognition of his ‘great humanitarian work, having rescued more than 59,000 desperate migrants from the waters of the Aegean and the Mediterranean in three and a half years’.