Drowned Baby Found Floating Like a Doll Brings Focus on Refugees’ Plight

Tue May 31, 2016 10:19:35

A picture of a drowned refugee baby found in the Mediterranean has been distributed by a humanitarian organization in an attempt to persuade EU officials to pay more attention to the plight of those trying to make the dangerous crossing to Europe’s shores.

"If we do not want to see such pictures we have to stop producing them," Reuters quoted Sea-Watch as saying in an email circulated with the picture on Monday.

"In the wake of the disastrous events it becomes obvious to the organizations on the ground that the calls by EU politicians to avoid further death at sea sum up to nothing more than lip service," said the German group, which operates sea rescue operations in the region.

The unnamed baby was found floating "like a doll, arms outstretched" on Friday after rescuers attended to a capsized wooden vessel.

"I took hold of the forearm of the baby and pulled the light body protectively into my arms at once, as if it were still alive ... It held out its arms with tiny fingers into the air, the sun shone into its bright, friendly but motionless eyes, said the rescuer."

"I began to sing to comfort myself and to give some kind of expression to this incomprehensible, heart-rending moment. Just six hours ago this child was alive," he added.

Not much is known about the child who was handed over to the Italian navy after being found. The whereabouts of its parents are also unknown.

Refugees wait aboard rescue ship "Aquarius" as they arrive in the port of Cagliari, Sardinia, on May 26, 2016. (AFP)

Forty-five other refugees lost their lives in the same incident, while 135 made it safely to the southern Italian port of Reggio Calabria onboard an Italian naval vessel.

The image is eerily reminiscent of that of the body of a three-year-old Syrian boy who washed up on a Turkish beach last year. Aylan Kurdi and his family, from the northern Syrian town of Kobani, were fleeing fierce fighting between Daesh (ISIS /
ISIL) Takfiri terrorists and Kurdish forces when their boat capsized.

This file photo taken on September 2, 2015 shows a Turkish police officer standing next to a refugee child's dead body (Aylan Kurdi) off the shores in Bodrum, southern Turkey. (AFP)

The haunting image of the body of Aylan focused the world’s attention on the wave of refugees who risk their lives to reach Europe after fleeing conflict-hit zones.

On Sunday, the United Nations refugee agency said that around 700 asylum-seekers had lost their lives in three shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea over the past few days.

This file photo taken on May 24, 2016 shows refugees during a rescue operation at sea of the Aquarius, a former North Atlantic fisheries protection ship now used by humanitarians SOS Mediterranee and Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders), on May 24, 2016 in the Mediterranean sea in front of the Libyan coast. (AFP)

According to the latest figures released by the International Organization of Migration (IOM), at least 194, 611 asylum seekers have reached Europe via the Mediterranean Sea so far this year, while 1,475 people died in their perilous journey to the continent.

Many blame major European powers for the unprecedented exodus, saying their policies have led to a surge in terrorism and war in those regions, forcing more people to flee their homes, Press TV reported.

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