Twins who were only five days old and born prematurely were among the thousands of migrants who were rescued on Monday in the Mediterranean, according to a humanitarian group.
The mother was traveling alone with her two infant boys. One of the babies was sick — he was vomiting and had a dangerously low body temperature, according to Doctors Without Borders, an international nonprofit agency also known by its French acronym, MSF.
“After a first triage, our medical team decided to request an evacuation due to the fact that his health was so fragile that he would not have survived the long journey to Italy in our boat. We transferred both mother and twins to another vessel that could evacuate them to shore,” Antonia Zemp, medical team leader with Doctors Without Borders, said in a statement.
Around 6,500 migrants were rescued on Monday in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya’s coast in 40 rescue operations, according to the Italian coastguard, making it one of the largest numbers of people rescued in a single day. Doctors Without Borders assisted in rescues of at least 3,000 people in one day, among them the twins and their mother, the group said.
People who were rescued and treated were experiencing health issues such as bloody diarrhea, dehydration, fever, hypothermia, skin diseases and exhaustion, according to Doctors Without Borders. One boat called Dignity I, carried 435 people — among them 110 children, 92 of which were unaccompanied minors while 13 children were under the age of 5.
Last year, more than 1 million migrants, many fleeing the war in Syria, arrived in Europe, igniting an unprecedented migration crisis. In 2015 and in the first half of 2016, over 6,600 refugees and migrants drowned or went missing in the Mediterranean after their boats capsized while trying to reach Europe, according to the International Organization for Migration. Many of the bodies have not been identified, and families at home might never find out what happened to their loved ones, according to a new report by the IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Center in Berlin, the University of York and the City University London.
“Behind the visible catastrophe of shipwrecks and deaths in the Mediterranean is an invisible catastrophe in which bodies are found and not enough is done to identify them and inform their families,” Dr. Simon Robins, lead author of the report and a senior research fellow at the Center for Applied Human Rights at the University of York, said in a statement.
“This is devastating for their families back home. They likened it to a form of torture where they are caught between hope and despair, not knowing whether they would ever see their loved one again, not knowing if they should give up hope and focus on the rest of their lives,” Robins added.