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Dublin: 7 °C Thursday 24 January, 2019
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Irish nurse helps deliver baby boy on board rescue ship

The mother had been kidnapped in Libya and was subjected to regular beatings before she escaped.

img-20180526-wa0005 Baby Miracle Source: MSF

A BABY BOY has been born on board a search and rescue ship run by the international medical humanitarian aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and SOS Méditerranée.

Baby Miracle was born on board the MV Aquarius in international waters at 3.45pm on Saturday. His mother was one of 69 people rescued from a rubber boat off the coast of Libya by an Italian naval vessel on Thursday and later transferred to the Aquarius.

Irish nurse Aoife Ni Mhurchu works with MSF and helped deliver Miracle. She told RTÉ Radio 1′s Morning Ireland that 51 men and 18 women, five of whom were pregnant, were rescued from the rubber boat last week. All underwent medical evaluation and two of the women were in the later stages of pregnancy.

Ni Mhurchu said, when it became clear that one of the women was in active labour, “we set the wheels in motion, got the clinic organised”.

“Things started proceeding then very quickly. It was very unexpected because she estimated herself that she was 34 weeks pregnant.”

Ni Mhurchu said the “acute stress” the woman had been through could be why she went into premature labour.

img-20180526-wa0007 MSF midwife Amoin Soulemane and Miracle's mother on board the MV Aquarius. Source: MSF

Ni Mhurchu said there are good conditions on board the ship and it has the “capacity to support any woman who is delivering a baby” – there is a midwife, a doctor, two nurses and medical equipment on board.

“If she had gone into labour 48 hours earlier she would have been in a very different and dangerou situation where she would have been giving birth completely terrified, heavily pregnant and hiding on a beach in Libya.”

Ni Mhurchu said the woman left Nigeria for Libya a year previously.

Once she was inside the Libyan border she was kidnapped and she was held in captivity in an official holding place for almost a year. She experienced a lot of grave human rights violations, very little food, regular beatings.

“She actually managed to escape in recent months with a large group of people, they saw an opportunity to escape and they ran in the night. Since then she’s been hiding in a friend’s house in Libya, waiting for the boat.”

Ni Mhurchu said mother and baby are “both very well” and were taken to hospital after landing in Sicily yesterday. She said the MV Aquarius sails under the flag of Gibraltar, but that the baby will have Nigerian citizenship.

In a separate statement released by MSF, Ni Mhurchu said the situation in Libya is “extremely dangerous for refugees and migrants, with very little access to medical care”.

“[The mother] told me their boat actually departed on Wednesday but after a few short minutes the engine failed and they were returned to shore.

“The smugglers demanded they hide on the beach, then disappeared and didn’t return for 24 hours. At this point she was left terrified, heavily pregnant, and without food or water,” Ni Mhurchu added.

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Órla Ryan

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