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2-year-old dies crossing Atlantic, highlighting perilous journey to Canary Islands

A group of migrants wake up on board the Spanish NGO Maydayterraneo's Aita Mari rescue boat early on February 10, 2020 [PABLO GARCIA/AFP via Getty Images]
A group of migrants wake up on board the Spanish NGO Maydayterraneo's Aita Mari rescue boat early on February 10, 2020 [PABLO GARCIA/AFP via Getty Images]

A two-year-old girl from Mali has died after being rescued from a boat of people seeking safety off the coast of the Canary Islands.

The toddler was one of 52 people, including nine children and 29 women, one of whom was pregnant, found one week ago after they had spent five days on the Atlantic Ocean after departing from Dakhla on the Western Sahara coast.

She was originally called Nabody by the Spanish media, though this was later corrected by medical staff who said it was the name of another child of a similar age on the boat.

Having suffered a heart attack, the young girl was unconscious when Red Cross nurses arrived and tried to resuscitate her at the port of Arguineguin where they were brought by Spain's maritime rescue service.

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"When I saw her the first thing I asked was 'Why?'," one of the nurses who treated her told the Spanish daily newspaper, El Pais. "How can life be so unfair?"

She died on Sunday after six days in intensive care at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Hospital in Gran Canaria.

Many passengers suffered severe hypothermia and were also cared for in hospital.

In 2020 a total of 23,025 migrants landed on the Canary Islands, eight times more than in 2019 when the figure was 2,700, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

Some 2,600 have arrived on the Canary Islands so far this year and the toddler was the 19th officially registered the death of a person travelling from Africa to the Canary Islands.

The real figures are thought to be much higher.

Increased controls on journeys to Greece, Italy, and mainland Spain have made the Canary Islands a destination for arrivals and reduced Mediterranean crossings.

The journey across the Atlantic takes between five and ten days and is highly dangerous due to the strong currents.

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AfricaEurope & RussiaMaliNewsSpain
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