By Iris van Deinse, IFRC
He was only two days old, when his mother Fatima took him on a rubber boat in the Southern Mediterranean Sea. They boarded the death trap dinghy, in desperate hope for a better life for her son in Europe. For several hours Fatima and her baby sat in the middle of the boat. The mother gave birth just before she decided to flee from Libya. “There was no way back,” Fatima says.
The pair were saved last week by the Responder search and rescue vessel. A team from the charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) plucked them and dozens of others from the doomed boat they were crammed in along with dozens of others, and brought them to safety.
As Fatima and her little boy boarded the Responder, they were met by medics from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) who took care of them.
Red Cross doctor, Kimberly de Souza, explains: “When they came on board I immediately checked if the baby and the mother were healthy and hydrated.
“Luckily, both were perfectly healthy.”
Born in the streets
It was a terrifying journey for Fatima and her baby. The little one was born in the streets of Libya and Fatima was alone.
“I don’t know where his father is,” she says. “Maybe he is on another boat towards Europe, but I haven’t heard any news from him for a long time.”
Fatima’s focus has been on surviving and the trauma and stress means she is yet to choose a name for baby boy.
The pair were taken to Vibo Valentia port in mainland Italy along with hundreds of other people rescued by the Responder. The Italian Red Cross was waiting on shore to provide health care, emergency supplies and to help people reconnect with lost loved ones. Although the Responder’s passengers are safe, a tough journey through Europe’s asylum process awaits them.