The migrant shipwreck off Calabria on Sunday did not only claim the lives of dozens of people, it also tore families apart. The medical charity MSF is trying to provide support to survivors.
After the umpteenth tragedy at sea in which dozens of asylum seekers died, this time off the coast of the southern Italian region of Calabria, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) staff members are helping survivors, including some who told the NGO that they have lost their whole family.
Stories of families torn apart
A 43-year-old Afghan man with a 14-year-old son lost three other children - aged 13, nine and five - and his wife; a 12-year-old Afghan boy lost his entire family, nine people in total including four siblings, his parents, and other relatives.
These are only two of the stories recounted by survivors to MSF volunteers. The NGO is providing psychological assistance to survivors who are staying at the CARA reception centre of Isola Capo Rizzuto.
Two Afghan brothers, including a minor, lost their parents and have a sibling who is in hospital; a Somali woman lost her brother; a 17-year-old Afghan, who is hospitalized, lost his parents; three Afghan brothers are in hospital after their parents and two sisters died.
An MSF mediator and a psychologist are working to help survivors. "A 16-year-old Afghan boy lost his 28-year-old sister," said Sergio di Dato, MSF project chief.
"Both swam to the beach, but unfortunately the sister didn't make it. When we activated the family link to inform the boy's family of the incident, the young man unfortunately didn't have the courage to tell his parents. We will follow this case in the coming days, and we will provide psychological support to ensure that the right message is given to the parents," he added.
Di Dato also mentioned the case of an "Afghan lady who is suffering very much after her husband died. But there are also many other cases, including of orphaned children. Unfortunately, it was a very intense day, full of emotions. We will continue to try to provide support to survivors in the coming days," he concluded.