NEW YORK (IDN) - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon extended on November 26 condolences to the Cuban people and to the family of former President Fidel Castro Ruz on behalf of the United Nations. Fidel Castro passed away overnight at the age of 90. He served as Cuba's President from 1976 to 2008.

“At this time of national mourning, I offer the support of the United Nations to work alongside the people of the island,” Ban told reporters in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, where he was attending the Global Sustainable Transport Conference. He offered his particular condolences to Cuban President Raúl Castro Ruz, UN News reported.

- Photo: 2021

Toddler’s Death Highlights Perils of Crossing the Atlantic

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK (IDN) — The sight of refugees clinging to leaking boats, barely floating in frigid waters, or worse, washing up lifelessly on sandy shores, almost fails to shock after these images repeat over and over, year after year.

But consciences were re-awakened when a two-year toddler from Mali was seen lifted from a sinking vessel packed with refugees. A team of Red Cross nurses worked frantically to resuscitate the girl who had suffered cardiac arrest. They hoped for a miracle. It never came.

Nabody was one of 52 people, including nine children from sub-Saharan African countries, onboard a vessel off Spain’s Canary Islands, who spent five days in the Atlantic Ocean after leaving Dakhla on the Western Sahara coast.

“There are no words to describe so much pain,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted.

The attempted rescue made the front pages of several Spanish newspapers and highlighted the continuing plight of people fleeing violence or seeking better lives in Europe.

In 2020, over 23,000 migrants landed on the Islas Canarias, a figure eight times higher than the prior year.

The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism and other industries in north and sub-Saharan Africa have pushed many more to embark on the perilous Atlantic crossing.

While the number of deaths fell this year, so-called “invisible shipwrecks” mean the real number is probably much higher, officials at the UN migration agency said.

These “shipwrecks” are events that cannot officially be corroborated because the vessels cannot be located and information is insufficient. If officials learn about them at all, it is often through bereaved family members. Sometimes, the only indication is floating bodies and this week rescuers found the bodies of four children washed up on the shores of Libya from a boat believed to be carrying North and West African migrants and refugees.

Canary Island officials have raised the alarm, particularly as more children are making the journey by boat. Since October, more than 2,000 such children have arrived.

Among them was 16-year-old Diawoiye from Mali, who fled conflict and economic insecurity in his own country. He spent six days at sea making the journey. “In Mali, there’s a war now … my mother and father are over there, and now they are getting old and there’s no money, so I left and came here,” he told Al Jazeera.

The Canary Islands regional government has opened 21 emergency centres for unaccompanied children but more needs to be done to support the refugee children, said Catalina Perazzo, a spokeswoman for Save the Children. [IDN-InDepthNews – 22 March 2021]

Photo: Two Red Cross workers racing to revive the child at the port of Arguineguín in Spain’s Gran Canaria island. Source: El Pais | Ángel Medina G. / EFE

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