The Interview

Exclusive: Carola Rackete, the Sea-Watch captain taken to court over migrant rescues

She is the sea captain who stood up to Italy's former interior minister Matteo Salvini. In late June, as Salvini refused to take in migrants, Carola Rackete defied authorities and entered the port of Lampedusa in southern Italy, where she disembarked 42 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean by her humanitarian ship, the Sea-Watch 3. The German captain was arrested but a court ordered her release. She spoke to FRANCE 24's Marc Perelman.

Advertising

Sea-Watch 3 captain Carola Rackete told FRANCE 24 that the issue of migration is being exploited for political purposes.

"The issue [of migration] is being abused. It's the fear of the unknown. In Germany in particular, it's very much known that in the areas which have the lowest immigration, where people don’t know migrants really – where there’s predominantly white communities – that's the communities where the right wing is having the highest votes. Whereas, say, in cities, in places where there is a lot of migration, people are much more welcoming, because they understand that any migrant, any refugee is just a person as they are."

Rackete also criticised the European Union for "financing the so-called Libyan coastguard, which is known to be involved in human rights abuses".

Finally, she explained why she is refusing to accept a medal awarded to her by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo. "What I hear from migrants and refugees living in the city of Paris is that the conditions in Paris are still shocking and that the council really isn't doing enough to bring that forward. And a very general concept of giving someone a medal doesn’t really help towards aiding the people who we are talking about."

>> On France24.com: Sea-Watch captain Rackete urges EU action on migrant rescues

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning