One who does not just watch: how Harald Höppner saves refugees in distress
"We are a floating eye on the sea that can call for help"
The idea arose at a Brandenburg kitchen table: The entrepreneur Harald Höppner, who had never sailed at sea, discussed the situation of the refugees on the Mediterranean with friends. Everyone agreed that they did not want to stand by dying. They decided to merge for a ship that helps refugees in distress.
The helpfulness was great
In the winter, they bought a fishing boat that was almost 100 years old, which was last used as a living ship, and made it seaworthy again. Höppner and his friends were surprised at how easy it was to find volunteers who wanted to work: captains, doctors, mechanics, lawyers, social workers, journalists, SMEs, craftsmen, educators and engineers - "ordinary people", as Höppner says.
The goal: to provide first aid
The ship is too small to accommodate refugees. The goal is to provide first aid. It has inflatable life rafts on board and is well equipped for communication. "We are a floating eye on the sea that can call for help."
The plan is to patrol the sea between Libya and Lampedusa and give emergency calls to the Italian Sea Rescue and Coast Guard. "The Italians are very anxious to help, unlike Frontex," says a helper. Frontex's job is to protect the EU's borders - not the refugees.
So you can support
On 19 April, the "MS Sea Watch" set sail from Hamburg. The ship does not arrive one minute too early: probably more than 1000 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean last weekend. The situation has worsened since Operation Mare Nostrum, which has saved more than 130,000 lives, has been suspended by the EU.
The project is financed by private funds. If Sea-Watch is to be successful in the long term, it depends on donations. You can support it at //sea-watch.org.
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