Pregnant woman among dozens of people treated by rescue boat medics

Published: 14 August 2016 10:58 CET

By Caroline Haga, IFRC

A pregnant woman brought to safety by Red Cross  recue boat the Responder is among dozens of patients treated by medics at sea this week.

The woman was suffering from severe dehydration, along with several others rescued from a dinghy drifting in the deadly Central Mediterranean on 10 August.

Medics from the Italian Red Cross, which has launced a joint search and rescue operation with charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), treated 35 people picked up from five different dignhies in two days.  The majority of the patients were suffering from dehydration and minor injuries while one man suffered a seizure.

Francesca Basile, Red Cross team leader on board the Responder, said:  ”We had two women who were so dehydrated, we had to put them on to an IV drip to get them the fluids they needed as quickly as possible – one of those women was preganat.  We think they had probably been drifting for at least 24 hours.

“The conditions on board these dinghies are seeing are horrific. In one tiny boat there were more than 150 packed on – half of the passengers were women and four  of them were pregnant. It’s shocking to see first hand what people are going through in search of  safety and a futre.”

Kadiagu, from Sengal, was among those recued last week.  The 20-year-old went to work in Libya but was trafficked and worked without wages or freedom.  She was eventually put in detention in Libya and once released, she decided escaping by boat was her only choice.

“I just felt I had to flee the country and so I boarded a boat.  All I want now is to feel safe and be able to be independent,” she said.

The Responder has rescued 448 people since its launch on 9 August.  Once safe, the passengers are then brought to ports in Italy where they are met by Italian Red Cross teams on the ground who provide emergency supplies, health care and are on hand to help people reconnect with loved ones they have become separated from on the journey.

Rossella Di Liberto, part of the Italian Red Cross’s shore-support team in Sicily, was in Pozzallo on Friday to welcome people rescued by the Responder.

“For us it’s very important to be here to greet people because many are fleeing violent situations and war, and are often traumatised,” he said.

”Instead of meeting the police first they meet the Red Cross. People know our  emblem and when they see it they know they can trust us.”

The Responder rescue mission, which is supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), will rescue an estimated 1,000 people a month.