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Refugee baby’s mother perishes at sea

One baby loses her mother as four people die in tragic rescue marred by chemical spill

A 15 month-old baby lost her mother during the latest Save the Children rescue in the Mediterranean, one of our most horrific missions to date in which four people died and ten suffered severe chemical burns.

Several pregnant women, as well as four other young babies, were also rescued during the operation on Saturday in which 120 were saved from a flimsy refugee boat. The boat had started to deflate, causing water to enter the dinghy and mix with the fuel that caused the chemical burns.

The baby who lost her mother was immediately put under the care of our child protection specialists who are working in coordination with teams on shore to ensure all the child’s protection needs will be met upon arrival to Italy.


A 1-year-old’s mother tragically passed away at sea

The harrowing ordeal of refugees and migrants on this perilous journey

“The tragic death of this baby’s mother is just one example of the lengths that families are pushed to take just to bring their children to safety,” said Rob MacGillivray, head of Save the Children’s Search and Rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

“This is an incredibly perilous journey and smugglers and traffickers are routinely subjecting people to the most dire of conditions – both in Libya where many spend months trying to cross and later on the fragile and horribly overcrowded boats in the Mediterranean where more than 1,600 people have already lost their lives this year.

“The refugees and migrants we rescued on Saturday were in some of the worst conditions Save the Children has ever witnessed on a rescue. Many of those on board were in extreme pain upon arrival, having suffered harrowing ordeals, including being beaten, whipped, kidnapped and raped on their journey.

“These sad events highlight the grave risks faced by those crossing the Mediterranean Sea in search of safety in Europe. It is yet another reminder that when there are no safe and regular routes, people will die at sea.”

Since Save the Children began its Search and Rescue Operations in the Mediterranean last September, we have rescued more than 4,000 people including some 500 children.


How your money can help:

  • Last year, we saved over 2,700 people, including nearly 500 children, in the Mediterranean.
  • Our ship rescues children and their families from the water.
  • On board the ship we’re giving them emergency medical treatment, food, water and clothes. And we have a safe space for children to rest, play and recover.
  • More than 90% of children travelling to Italy are alone. So our experts on board give them emotional support and practical help. We’re then bringing them to the nearest safe port in Italy.
  • Our teams in Italy – who have been responding to the refugee crisis for eight years – are making sure the most vulnerable children get specialist help.
  • But we need your support to keep the ship running and save thousands of lives.

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