Diabetic Syrian migrant dies after smugglers throw medicine overboard

Diabetic Syrian migrant dies after smugglers throw medicine overboard
3 min read
21 July, 2015
Italian police arrested three Egyptians allegedly in charge of a smuggling boat on which a diabetic Syrian child died and was 'buried at sea' after smugglers threw her insulin overboard.
The ongoing conflict in Syria is driving a growing number towards Europe [Getty]

A diabetic Syrian child, fleeing the conflict in her war-torn country, died on a migrant boat and was "buried at sea" after traffickers threw her insulin overboard, a children’s charity reported.

The 11-year-old was travelling from Egypt with eight members of her family, who told the traffickers that the bag they were carrying contained essential insulin for their sick daughter, Save the Children said.

     When a little girl dies, we can't allow ourselves to renounce being human beings for the sake of a percentage point
- Italian Prime Minister

But yet, the medicine was thrown into the sea and the young child later died without it.

“She was 11 and was diabetic. After one day, the daughter died in her mother’s arms and afterward her body was also thrown in the sea” Gemma Parkin, from Save the Children said.

Police in Sicily arrested three Egyptians on Saturday who were allegedly in charge of the smuggling boat, which had around 335 migrants on board.

The migrants had left port near Alexandria, Egypt, according to Save the Children, and arrived in port in Augusta, Sicily, last Wednesday after a week at sea.

The ANSA news agency said the Egyptians were arrested on suspicion of aiding illegal immigration, though not with homicide, since the smugglers who threw the insulin overboard were purportedly the trip organisers in Egypt.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi mentioned the girls' death in a speech Saturday in hopes of calming mounting tensions in Italy over resettling would-be refugees, whose numbers have taxed Italy's overcrowded refugee centres.

Police in Rome scuffled with residents this week who were protesting the transfer of a few dozen migrants to their neighbourhood, while in Treviso, residents set fire to mattresses of a condo where 100 migrants were to be put up temporarily. The would-be refugees were subsequently transferred.

Renzi acknowledged the politicised anti-immigrant sentiment in Italy, especially from the country's right-wing Northern League party.

"We can discuss everything, but let's still be human when facing the pain of someone who has the right to dignity," Renzi said.

"When a little girl dies, we can't allow ourselves to renounce being human beings for the sake of a percentage point" he added.

More than four million Syrians have fled the civil war ravaging their country to become refugees in the surrounding region - a million of them in the past 10 months alone, the United Nations said earlier this month.

"Worsening conditions are driving growing numbers towards Europe and further afield" UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres said.

Syrians are so desperate to escape the nightmare conditions in their country that they made up a third of the 137,000 people who flooded across the Mediterranean to Europe during the first half of 2015 - many in rickety boats and at the mercy of human traffickers, UNHCR figures have shown.