One Baby Loses Her Mother as Four People Die in Tragic Mediterranean Rescue Marred by Chemical Spill

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (June 5, 2017) — A 15 month-old baby lost her mother during the latest Save the Children rescue in the Mediterranean, one of organization’s most horrific missions to date in which four people died and ten suffered severe chemical burns.

Several pregnant women, as well as four other young babies, were also rescued during the operation on Saturday in which 120 were saved from a flimsy refugee boat. The boat had started to deflate, causing water to enter the dinghy and mix with the fuel that caused the chemical burns.

The baby who lost her mother was immediately put under the care of our child protection specialists who are working in coordination with teams on shore to ensure all the child’s protection needs will be met upon arrival to Italy.

"The tragic death of this baby’s mother is just one example of the lengths that families are pushed to take just to bring their children to safety," said Rob MacGillivray, head of Save the Children’s search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

"This is an incredibly perilous journey and smugglers and traffickers are routinely subjecting people to the most dire of conditions – both in Libya where many spend months trying to cross and later on the fragile and horribly overcrowded boats in the Mediterranean where more than 1,600 people have already lost their lives this year.

"The refugees and migrants we rescued on Saturday were in some of the worst conditions Save the Children has ever witnessed on a rescue. Many of those on board were in extreme pain upon arrival, having suffered harrowing ordeals, including being beaten, whipped, kidnapped and raped on their journey.

"These sad events highlight the grave risks faced by those crossing the Mediterranean Sea in search of safety in Europe. It is yet another reminder that when there are no safe and regular routes, people will die at sea."

Since Save the Children began its search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean last September, we have rescued more than 4,000 people including some 500 children.

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding more than 100 years ago, we’ve changed the lives of more than 1 billion children. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share. Follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube.


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