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PORTFOLIO

05.04.2016

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Nearly every day we hear new stories about refugee tragedies unfolding on the Mediterranean. You can look away, you can discuss the situation, you can give a donation – or you can try and help, as Berlin entrepreneur Harald Höppner has done. He made virtually all his company assets available, convinced family members and friends to donate, and made use of an association to collect further donations. With those funds he bought the Sea-Watch, a 98 year-old Dutch fishing cutter, and then paid for flights and food for a volunteer crew. The converted ship first set out from Hamburg heading for the Mediterranean. Since then, it has sailed with various crews, looking for refugees in danger at sea. The photographer Daniel Etter accompanied them on a rescue mission.

Read the full article in LFI 3/2016.


You spent two weeks on the Sea-Watch. Was your experience on board what you expected?

It had never occurred to me that everything would be perfectly well organized. You can’t expect that from an effort that has to make do with so little money, and that is organized by people who have never been involved in a rescue mission like this beforehand. I had seen photos of the boat and knew what to expect. The surprise was not getting seasick.


Where exactly did you go with the Sea-Watch and for how long?

I took photos during a two-week tour in the Mediterranean. In fact, we were only on the water for six of those days and the rest of the time we were in Lampedusa harbour – the crew was changing and there were problems with the boat.


Are there experiences that remain particularly present in your mind?

The rescue mission itself, of course. Apart from that, we crossed a lot of open sea – you go for a long time without seeing anything at all. The realization that these people head off into the big blue yonder in enormous, overcrowded rubber boats with no idea of what might happen to them was oppressive, but also impressive.

Daniel Etter

Daniel Etter is a free-lance photographer, author and film maker. After studying journalism and political science, he received the Kathryn Davis Fellowship for Peace in 2013. His pictures have received awards from the Alexia Foundation and the Picture of the Year International competition, while his articles have earned him the Axel Springer Award and the Hans Buchrucker Award.

www.danieletter.com
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