Hey! Don’t! Don’t look away! Right. The baby is not sleeping. The little one, probably less than a year old, half dressed in baby clothes, was pulled from the sea by the team of a German humanitarian organization operating a rescue boat between Libya and Italy on Friday.
Rescuer Martin who had spotted the baby in the water “like a doll, arms outstretched” after the wooden boat carrying its parents capsized writes in an email organization Sea-Watch distributed to the media.
“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.”
The rescuer, a father of three and by profession a music therapist, added:
“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.”
The boat capsized last Friday. 45 bodies arrived in the southern Italian port of Reggio Calabria on Sunday aboard an Italian navy ship, which picked up 135 survivors from the same incident. It is not known whether the baby’s parents were among the survivors. The German rescuers handed out the baby to the Italian Navy.
The picture of the drowned migrant baby in the arms of German rescuer Martin was distributed on Monday by the humanitarian organization aiming to persuade European authorities to ensure safe passage to migrants.
“Like the photograph of the three-year-old Syrian boy Aylan lying lifeless on a Turkish beach last year, the image puts a human face on the more than 8,000 people who have died in the Mediterranean since the start of 2014,” Reuters stresses.
The Sea-Watch team said it unanimously decided to publish the photo critizing the EU policies saying “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.”
According to UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, 700 people are feared to have drowned in three shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea last week. The journey of the desperate continues without a break.
Many on the boats sailing form Libya to Italy are Syrians and Iraqis.
Migrants fall into the sea from a boat that capsized last week as Italian navy ships attempted a rescue. Photograph: Reuters – Article The Guardian
A total of 13,000 people were rescued last week.
Sea-Watch.org posted a picture of a rescuer and a child survivor noting: one of the happiest moments despite the ugly experience of last week.
— Seawatch (@seawatchcrew) May 30, 2016
Closing of the Balkan Route borders or signing an EU Turkey Deal has not stopped the people from trying to each Europe. Even trying more risky ways like the long journey through the dangerous waters of the Mediterranean Sea, when trying to reach Italy. The drama has no end.
A Safe Passage will never happen. The EU was and is still clueless on the Migration crisis. Cruel reality. Tragedy touches Cynicism.
— MSF Sea (@MSF_Sea) May 30, 2016
But as the Sea-Watch NGO writes:
“If we do not want to see such pictures we have to stop producing them.”
Do you think that EU politicians will suffer a nervous breakdown and collapse when seeing such pictures?
I doubt it. Local voters have much more power than the masses of the nameless migrants, even if they have their name and a phone number on their t-shirts.