NEW YORK – “I am excited and happy with the documentary 4.1 Miles can be viewed in homes around the world to show the drama of the refugees in this crisis facing Greece so they can think to do something about it,” Kyriakos Papadopoulos told the National Herald.
The captain of the Greek Coast Guard patrol vessel 602 based on the island of Lesbos is the protagonist of the Academy Award-nominated documentary short subject 4.1 Miles. Papadopoulos visited Los Angeles for the ceremony with the director Daphne Matziaraki.
Although they did not win the gold statuette, they were proud because of the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the documentary that managed to touch the hearts of viewers. “In Los Angeles, we experienced such an extraordinary moment and felt pride because expatriates followed us in and out of the auditorium at the Academy Awards and we were surrounded with admiration and love,” said Captain Papadopoulos, noting that “the Greeks when they visit Lesbos donate clothes and toys to the children.”
“The clothes donated by expatriates are used to dress the refugee children we pull from the sea. The adults take them with them and are warmed by the love of the Greeks,” he said. At the same time, he expressed his gratitude to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for the assistance provided in the production and screening of the documentary and the millions of dollars offered to support charitable organizations and activities in the homeland.
On Wednesday, March 2, Papadopoulos and Matziaraki attended the screening of the documentary, which was held in the packed auditorium at the United Nations. They spoke about the heroic efforts made by the end of 2014 until today to save from certain death the thousands of refugees from Syria and other war zones in the Middle East.
Asked about the awards and honors, Papadopoulos noted that “the greatest honor is knowing we saved ??a two-year-old child who was trampled in the boat, pulled unconscious, and brought back to life, and the two hundred and more unaccompanied children and the over five thousand refugees we rescued by the end of 2014 until today.”
Equally important was the awarding of the Prize of the Academy in 2015, without a corresponding notice to the crew of the Coast Guard patrol vessel - Greek coastguard 602 commanded by Papadopoulos, for the humanitarian acts during refugee search and rescue operations in the waters around Lesbos.
Asked why refugees are choosing Greece, not Italy, and other Mediterranean countries, Papadopoulos said, “It is very difficult to reach the Italian coast with inflatable boats and old tubs and they prefer Lesbos and the other Greek islands because they are very close.”
“The lights operate as a compass and orient. Their movements are made at night and when they see the Greek flag and the Greek colors of the patrol boat, they feel safe,” he added. Referring to the refugees, he said they “carry daily scenes of war” and that they “are in a state of panic.”
“Our first concern is to reassure and to first rescue the children and then everyone else, but their boats are overcrowded, others are thrown from boats to save first, others push us to go first, but we try to do our job” Papadopoulos said. “When we're on patrol our safety and security comes second and we are always ready to put our lives at risk to save our fellow man.”
Asked how the average person can help the Greeks with the refugee crisis, Papadopoulos said “They can help NGOs, the Red Cross, the Greek Rescue Team of the METAdrasi organization, the Smile of the Child, both financially and by sending medical supplies and other basic necessities.” Referring to the flow of refugees, he emphasized that it is ongoing, but does not have the intensity it had as in the previous two years.