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The above image captures the tragedy which hundreds of thousands of migrants face trying to reach safety. The photograph of a drowned migrant baby in the arms of a German rescuer was distributed on Monday by a humanitarian organization aiming to persuade European authorities to ensure safe passage to migrants, after hundreds are feared to have drowned in the Mediterranean last week. German humanitarian organization Sea-Watch, operating a rescue boat in the sea between Libya and Italy, distributed the picture taken by a media production company on board and which showed a rescuer cradling the child like a sleeping baby.
According to the rescuers the baby, who seems to be no more than a year old, was pulled from the sea on Friday after the capsizing of a wooden boat. Forty-five 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.
The rescuer said, “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.”
Little is known about the child, who according to Sea-Watch was immediately handed over to the Italian navy. Rescuers could not confirm whether the partially clothed infant was a boy or a girl and it is not known whether the child’s mother or father are among the survivors. The boat carrying the baby left the shores of Libya near Sabratha late on Thursday, and then began to take in water, according to accounts by survivors collected by Save the Children on Sunday. Hundreds were on board when it capsized, the survivors said.
Such incidents are by no means uncommon. At least 700 migrants may have died at sea this past week in the busiest week of migrant crossings from Libya towards Italy this year, the UN Refugee agency said on Sunday.
As human beings, what value do we place on a life? Do children’s lives matter irrespective of their origin, race, place of birth or the religion of their parents? Should lives be lost because of man-made boundaries, borders and political agendas? Do we care enough to stop this madness which has made us immune and unfeeling even to the loss of our precious children?