Rescue after nearly 9,000
attempt treacherous crossing from Libya to Italy in four days
Erin Taylor 267.250.8829 (M)
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (June 29, 2017) —
the Children’s medical team safely delivered a baby girl last night on board
the organization’s rescue ship in the Mediterranean, the Vos Hestia. The
newborn baby, along with her mother and another heavily pregnant woman who had
set out from Libya have now been taken by fast boat to receive care in Malta.
we welcomed a newborn baby girl to the world. It was a moment of joy and hope
amid the daily desperation that has seen more than 2,000 people lose their
lives in the sea this year,” said Rob MacGillivray, Save the Children’s Search
and Rescue Director.
mother was in the midst of fleeing for safety. She was forced from home,
exploited by smugglers and seemingly abandoned by the world. Mother and baby
are now safe after both their lives dangled by a thread. Their survival is a
stark reminder of what is at stake in the Mediterranean.”
said a three-day-old baby and her mother had also been rescued from the sea by
Save the Children. “Imagine the horrors you must be leaving behind to get on a
flimsy boat with your new baby in the middle of the night, knowing her life
could be snuffed out before it has even begun.”
our team had worked flat out for 20 hours, side-by-side with other NGOs, the
Italian coastguard and navy, all rescue ships in the area were overwhelmed. And
still more flimsy boats were sighted in the distance, demonstrating once again
European response to save people at risk of drowning is inadequate and more
capacity is needed.”
the largest number of people Save the Children has rescued in a single day were
over 50 young children. More than 200 of those pulled from unstable and
overcrowded boats are thought to be children travelling alone, without parents
rescues came during the course of four days when almost 9,000 people attempted
the crossingfrom Libya. The Vos
Hestia is returning to Italy with more than 1,000 on board.
fraught day on the sea, many people panicked as rescue boats approached, before
jumping into the water despite the risk of drowning. While the rescue team were
attending to one wooden boat, a rubber boat began to deflate, forcing them to
rush to it to avert disaster. Three serious medical cases were immediately
treated and stabilized in the on board clinic by our doctor and nurses.
intense day on the Mediterranean came just days after EU members committed to
‘stepping up co-ordination and delivery’ of plans that would force children to
remain in Libya, where they are vulnerable to violence and abuse.
EU has begun training and equipping the Libyan coastguard with the aim of
preventing people from setting off or making it out of Libyan waters. The EU is
also providing funding and other incentives to countries in Africa on the
condition that they stop refugees and migrants from making the journey towards
Europe, and prioritize re-admissions from the continent.
pushing desperate children back to Libya, which many describe as hell, is not a
solution. We are also concerned that families might be forcibly sent back to
the same countries of origin where they fled from persecution, war, rape, torture
and exploitation,” MacGillivray said.
“Once on board, those we
rescue speak of the horror of being trapped in Libya. Women we have rescued have
told us that women and girls would been taken from the streets for hours,
sexually assaulted and often raped, then left where they were found. One man
had witnessed door to door attacks in which many West Africans were killed.
Another man came on board with visible signs of suspected torture including
acid drops, electrical burns and bullet wounds.
told us people in his detention center were whipped and electrocuted every day,
so they would scream to their families to send more money. There were also
accounts of people being kidnapped and then ‘sold’ to others for work.
is the fate people are condemned to by policies that return them to Libya. The
lack of any kind of guarantee of protection for those caught up in these deals
is unacceptable. A human rights monitoring and accountability mechanism would
be a step in the right direction.”
is outsourcing and deserting its responsibility to refugees and migrants,”
MacGillivray added. “It is undermining its own credibility by prioritizing
border control over saving lives in the short term or a realistic, humane plan
in the long term. Member states must work urgently toward a policy which prioritizes safe and legal
routes to Europe, including resettlement and humanitarian visas. More money
should also be spent on addressing the conditions that force people to migrate
in the first place by increasing development aid for poor countries and working
to end violence and persecution in their countries of origin.”
the Children’s search and rescue operations have so far rescued over 3,400
people in 2017, including over 500 children.
Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.