Stop indifference: Three-year-old boy among 17 people feared dead in the Mediterranean

Published: 13 October 2016

Geneva/Rome 13 October 2016: A three-year-old boy is among 17 people feared dead after a harrowing nightly rescue in the Mediterranean.

At least 17 people are missing following the rescue of a dinghy in distress in the Mediterranean Sea last night.

Rough waters and overcrowding contributed to the tragedy that saw 113 people pulled to safety by rescue teams and brought aboard the Phoenix – one of two rescue boats that are part of a partnership between the Italian Red Cross and Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS).

“According to our team on the Phoenix, the little boy was travelling with his mother. She is in total shock - in the chaos on the dinghy and the rough waves, he tumbled into the sea,” said Leonardo Carmenati, Head of Migration in Europe for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. “She is still holding onto hope that her son might be found alive.”

A teenage girl and five friends of one of the young men that were rescued have also been reported missing. The final numbers of people feared drowned is yet to be confirmed but there are concerns it could be higher. No bodies have yet been recovered.

Many of the survivors have severe fuel burns, including a woman with first-degree burns on more than 35 per cent of her body. The Red Cross medical teams are currently treating the survivors but efforts to evacuate the most serious cases have been hampered by weather conditions.

Carmenati said: “An average of 13 people die or go missing every single day in the Mediterranean due to a crippling indifference to the migration crisis. Our teams are helping everyone they can at sea but search and rescue is not a sustainable solution - the world must come together to focus first on saving lives and respecting human dignity.”

The IFRC urges world leaders to shoulder the responsibility of protecting the dignity and human rights of people fleeing violence and poverty, irrespective of their legal status. It is crucial that provisions are made to ensure people do not pay for the search for safety with their lives.

The Italian Red Cross, with support from IFRC is partnering with independent charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) in a joint life-saving mission on board the Responder and Phoenix rescue ships in the Central Mediterranean.  More than 5,000 have been rescued since the mission began in June.

For more information contact:

In Budapest:

Nichola Jones, communications manager, IFRC Europe

Email: | Tel: +36 70 430 6506/ +44 7715 459956  | Twitter: @nicjones81

On board the Responder rescue mission:

Jenelle Eli, emergency communications, IFRC Europe

Email: | What's App: +12026036803 | Skype: elijenelle | Twitter: @jenelle_eli