Geneva, 19 August 2016: Two Syrian children, eight months and five years old, were today confirmed to be amongst five people who drowned at sea yesterday after their boat capsized trying to cross the Mediterranean.

YouTube video

The Red Cross search and rescue boat, the Responder, is assisting in the operation to transfer those who had died and help take them to land.

“On World Humanitarian Day, this is a tragic reminder that nearly every day, children, women and men are drowning trying to cross the Mediterranean to find a new home,” said the Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Elhadj As Sy.

“We must stop our indifference to this humanitarian tragedy.  We must come together to respond to this crisis in a way that saves lives and protects human dignity.”

“How can so little have changed nearly a year after a photo of a little boy named Alan Kurdi galvanized the world?” Mr Sy asked.

Yesterday’s drownings in the Mediterranean Sea add to an escalating number of deaths at sea which already exceeds 3,100 this year.

The Responder also helped to rescue more than 140 people yesterday who were found in an overcrowded rubber boat that was accumulating water and sinking.

Since 9 August, the Italian Red Cross, with support from the IFRC, and independent charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), have been part of a joint life-saving mission on board the Responder rescue ship.

Rescued people are brought to the shores of Italy, where Italian Red Cross teams will receive them and provide food, water, first aid and basic necessities.