January 4, 2016 10:46 am
Updated: January 4, 2016 10:49 am

Refugee crisis: 2-year-old refugee becomes 1st known casualty of 2016

A man carries a child as they try to reach the shore after falling into the sea while disembarking from a dinghy on which they crossed a part of the Aegean Sea with other refugees and migrants, from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos, on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016.

AP Photo/Santi Palacios

A drowned two-year-old boy is the first known refugee casualty of 2016 after a dinghy he and his mother were travelling in slammed into rocks off the coast of Greece’s Agathonisi Island.

The boy, identified by only his first name Khalid, died on Saturday when a rubber raft carrying 40 people smashed into rocks, throwing several people overboard.

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The boy’s body was pulled from the water by fisherman in the area. The charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), responded to the wreck and rescued the 39 other refugees, according to Agence-France Presse.

Photos captured by MOAS show the rescued refugees wrapped in thermal blankets, while some of them suffered scrapes and bruises. Ten of the survivors were taken to a hospital and treated for hypothermia, including a three-month-old infant.

The vessel was travelling from Turkey during “very unfavourable,” conditions a coast guard spokesperson said.

“Nothing can prepare you for the horrific reality of what is going on. Today we came face to face with one of the youngest victims of this ongoing refugee crisis. It is a tragic reminder of the thousands of people who have died trying to reach safety in miserable conditions,” said MOAS founder Christopher Catrambone, in a statement.

The charity shared an image on Twitter showing a wooden casket being transferred off one of their rescue vessels.

“The body of 2-year-old Khalid being transferred off #MOASResponder to a waiting hearse. May he rest in peace,” MOAS tweeted.

“The light in all of this darkness is that there are so many individuals and organisations dedicating themselves to saving lives. As we have seen today, collaboration and cooperation is crucial to all of us being effective in our efforts.”

According to the Associated Press, Greece’s coast guard said 217 migrants had been rescued by authorities since the start of the New Year in four separate incidents.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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