People continue to flee Libya and die in the Mediterranean. After the shipwreck on Wednesday off the coast of Sabrata, where, despite the intervention of the Spanish NGO Open Arms, six migrants lost their lives, including a six-month-old baby, on Friday at least another 94 people died in two different shipwrecks off the coast of Libya. The International Organization for Migration and Doctors Without Borders reported the testimonies collected by their representatives in the North African country.
The first boat overturned off the coast of Khums. It was carrying 120 migrants, including women and children. Forty-seven survivors were recovered by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard and some fishermen. This is “the latest in a series of tragedies involving at least eight other shipwrecks in the Central Mediterranean since 1 October,” the IOM accused. “The mounting loss of life in the Mediterranean is a manifestation of the inability of States to take decisive action to redeploy much needed, dedicated Search and Rescue capacity in the deadliest sea-crossing in the world,” added IOM’s Chief of Mission in Libya, Federico Soda.
According to the Organization, 900 people lost their lives trying to reach Europe this year alone, “some due to delays in rescue,” while more than 11,000 have been brought back to the North African country—which, as the IOM accused, put them at risk of facing human rights violations, detention, abuse and human trafficking.
Another twenty migrants died in the second shipwreck reported by MSF, whose staff in Soman assisted three women who survived the tragedy. “Rescued by local fishermen, they were in shock and terrified; they saw loved ones disappear beneath the waves, dying in front of their eyes,” MSF wrote in a tweet.
Meanwhile, Open Arms has decided to make public a video showing the desperation felt by the mother of Joseph, the six-month-old boy who died in the shipwreck on Wednesday. “I’ve lost my baby! I’ve lost my baby!” cries the woman, who tries to jump into the water from the raft and is stopped by the volunteers involved in the rescue. The Spanish NGO had a difficult choice to make: “We thought about whether to show the cries, the pain and despair of the shipwreck,” they explained. “Joseph’s mother was desperate because her son had slipped away from her hands. We decided to make public what is taking place in that stretch of sea, so that our eyes wouldn’t be the only ones to see and so this would come to an end right away.”
After rescuing him from the sea, rescue workers took Joseph aboard the ship, where the emergency doctors were able to stabilize him. Sadly, the little one did not make it until the arrival of an Italian Coast Guard patrol boat that was supposed to take him ashore. A helicopter brought the body of Joseph and his mother to Lampedusa, together with an 18-year-old pregnant girl. Another three-month old baby and her mother were evacuated and taken to Malta, together with a 15-year old boy who arrived on board the ship in cardiac arrest. There are now 259 people on the Open Arms ship.