A baby boy was born in international waters in the middle of the Mediterranean to refugee parents from Nigeria just shortly after the mother was rescued by a Doctors without Borders ship, the medical organization said in a statement Monday.
The baby was named Newman Otas and was delivered by an MSF midwife just 24 hours after his parents Otas and Faith and his two older brothers were rescued from a rubber boat coming from Libya. Because the baby was born in international waters, his nationality is still under discussion.
“I was very stressed on the rubber boat, sitting on the floor of the boat with the other women and children,” the baby’s mother Faith was quoted as saying by the MSF statement. “Panicking that I would go into labor, I could feel my baby moving; he would move down and then move back up again. I had been having contractions for three days.”
MSF said that Newman Otas was one of four babies under 1 year old of the more than 392 people rescued Sunday from two rubber boats.
According to MSF, “155 people on board are under 18 years of age, 141 of them traveling alone without a parent or guardian accompanying them. There are 11 children under five years of age and now four babies younger than 1 year.”
Jonquil Nicholl, the MSF midwife who delivered the baby, said, “A very normal birth in dangerously abnormal conditions,” as she described how dangerous it would have been to deliver the baby on the overcrowded boat.
“I am filled with horror at the thought of what would have happened if this baby had arrived 24 hours earlier—in that unseaworthy rubber boat, with fuel on the bottom where the women sit, crammed in with no space to move, at the mercy of the sea."
The Making of the Migration Crisis
Italy’s Coast Guard said that at least 1,100 refugees were saved off the Libyan coast Sunday, bringing the number of those rescued over the weekend to over 3,400 people.
With more than three months to go until the end of 2016, Italy's Interior Ministry says about 124,500 refugees have arrived so far this year, which is already more than the 122,000 recorded for the whole of last year.
Italy is sheltering a growing number of would-be refugees as its European Union neighbors to the north have moved to tighten their borders and make it harder for migrants to travel to their preferred destinations.
As asylum-seekers travel the risky path of crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe more than 2,700 people have died during the trip this year alone, just 1,000 shy of 2015’s total, when arrivals were more than 1 million people.