In the past few months, sailors have often encountered ships with refugees from African countries. Not an easy situation for the skipper and crew. You get into a quandary. Because anyone who provides help runs the risk of being guilty of people smuggling. He risks imprisonment, immense fines and even losing his own ship. So what's the best way to behave?
The number of mostly North or West African refugees to South European has risen sharply in recent years. In 2006 alone, 25,000 of the Africans, mostly fleeing civil war and hunger, were registered. Although at first glance the condition of the dilapidated, overloaded boats and the lack of food and drinking water seem to make assistance inevitable, every skipper should think twice about taking refugees on board.
In Italy in particular, skippers have already been taken into custody on charges of people smuggling. And there have also been various seizures of yachts as evidence. This is countered by the obligation to provide assistance, which is anchored in the national legislation of most European countries. It tells everyone, if at all possible, to help other people in need
All in all, the conflict between ethics and morals, along with an impenetrable jungle of national regulations, prevents a completely legitimate option for a skipper who comes into contact with the so-called boat people. Legal expert Dr. Heyko Wychodil in the current issue of YACHT (issue 10/2007, now at the kiosk).