Red Cross volunteers in Seychelles gain valuable experience

Published: 9 May 2001 0:00 CET

More than a hundred Malagasy fishermen were deported from the Seychelles on May 6th after spending several days on their boat in conditions described by the Seychelles Red Cross as "very poor". The boat, the Modell Mahajanga had been impounded by the authorities on suspiscion of illegal fishing and the men were required to stay on their 43-metre Malagasy-registered vessel until the Seychelles authorities decided their fate.

"There were no sleeping facilities and no space for excercise," said Chrystold Chetty, President of the Seychelles Red Cross which had gone on board the boat last week to assess the conditions there. Volunteers had distributed clothing, food and basic hygiene items to the 110 people on board the Modell Mahajanga and passed on messages to their families until the decision to deport 103 of the people was made.

The Seychelles Red Cross in collaboration with the Seychelles coastguard, also distributed more soap and a set of clothing to those leaving and organised a breakfast before the fishermen were taken to the airport for their flight home. The fishermen, who were being accompanied by the Malagasy ambassador to the Seychelles, expressed their heartiest thanks to the Red Cross volunteers who had helped them over the week.

"This incident has been very good experience for our volunteers. It is the first time that we have had to deal with such a big group of people and many lessons have been learnt," said Chrystold Chetty.

The captain of the boat and six crew members are still on board the vessel awaiting court proceedings.