A Libyan woman who gave birth aboard a rescue ship is “doing well,” said Kira Smith, a midwife onboard the Geo Barents vessel, which is operated by Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
The mother was flown by helicopter with her newborn baby, Ali, plus three siblings to a hospital in Sicily. The mother remains under medical supervision, according to CBC Canada newspaper.
Smith acknowledged that rescue vessels are not necessarily equipped to handle births. The stress and trauma that migrants face can also complicate pregnancies.
“Our survivors have had a really long and hard journey, and so they are not in the best condition physically. And then often what they’re escaping has also left them not in the best health to begin with,” Smith said.
“So this isn’t someone who’s … going into labour being prepared physically, mentally and emotionally,” she added.
Hundreds of migrants have disembarked from two charity rescue boats in Italy amid ongoing tensions over how to handle refugees found at sea. Two ships, carrying more than 500 passengers rescued from the Mediterranean, were granted permission to dock on Sunday. The Geo Barents, carrying 248 passengers, arrived in Salermo, while SOS Humanity, carrying 261, docked in Bari.
“He is in good health, (he weighs) 3.5 kilograms (7.7 pounds), he is a beautiful baby,” MSF staffer, Candida Lobes said in a video message, according to Reuters.
MSF said newborn Ali and his family were sent to Italy after Malta said they would only take him and his mother, separating her from her older children. “It was clearly unthinkable,” Lobes said.
In November, Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antonio Tajani, called for working towards the stability of Libya, “before talking about the issue of confronting illegal immigration.” This came in his interview with the Italian newspaper Libero Agency.
Tajani criticized Europe’s handling of the Libyan crisis, “as it was too late and did not create a unified strategy, while Libya was dragged into chaos,” in an implicit reference to the role of former French President, Nicolas Sarkozy.