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Child migrant, 2, dies in Spain after rescue operation off Canary Islands

Published: Updated:

A two-year-old girl from Mali who had to be resuscitated after being rescued from a boat packed with migrants off Spain’s Canary Islands last week died on Sunday in hospital, local authorities said.

The girl was one of 52 sub-Saharan Africans found onboard a vessel near the island of Gran Canaria on Tuesday who were brought by Spain’s maritime rescue service to the port of Arguineguin.

Rescuers handed the unconscious girl, whose name was Nabody, to a team of Red Cross nurses who worked frantically to revive her on the pavement of the port, images broadcast on Spanish TV last week showed.

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She was then rushed to a hospital in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the capital of Gran Canaria, where she died on Sunday, said a spokeswoman for the health department of the regional government of the Atlantic archipelago.

The girl had been in a critical condition in the hospital’s intensive care unit since her rescue, the spokeswoman added without giving further details.

Local media said Nabody, who was travelling to Gran Canaria with her mother and older sister, had severe hypothermia and had entered cardiac arrest when she arrived at the port of Arguineguin.

“There are no words to describe so much pain. A heartfelt thanks to those who fought until the end to save her life,” Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted.

“This is wake-up call for everybody. Nabody was 24 months old.”

A file photo shows a migrant arrives at the Port of Arguineguin after being rescued by the Spanish coastguard in the Canary Island on November 23, 2020. (AFP)
A file photo shows a migrant arrives at the Port of Arguineguin after being rescued by the Spanish coastguard in the Canary Island on November 23, 2020. (AFP)

The Canary Islands are a key entry point for migrants seeking a better life in Europe.

In 2020, a total of 23,023 migrants landed on the islands, a figure eight times higher than the 2,687 who arrived in 2019.

So far this year nearly 3,000 migrants have landed on the Spanish islands, double the number during the same time last year.

The numbers surged after increased patrols along Spain’s southern coast dramatically reduced crossings via the Mediterranean.

At its shortest, the sea crossing to the islands from the Moroccan coast is more than 100 kilometers (60 miles), but it is a notoriously dangerous route because of strong currents, while vessels are typically overcrowded and in poor condition.

Last year, 1,851 people died on route, according to the Caminando Fronteras organisation which monitors migrant flows.

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