Newman Otas was born somewhere between hell and high water just after 7 am on September 12, on board MV Aquarius, a search and rescue vessel run in partnership between MSF and SOS Mediterranee.
He was born at 7:00 am ship’s time in international waters to Nigerian parents, who have named him Newman Otas. His parents, Otas and Faith, and older brothers Victory, seven, and Rollres, five, were rescued from an overcrowded rubber boat 24 hours earlier.
Currently 392 people are on board after two rubber boats were rescued and one transfer accepted: 155 people on board are under 18, 141 of them are traveling alone – without a parent or guardian accompanying them. There are 11 children under five and now four babies under a year.
“I was very stressed on the rubber boat, sitting on the floor of the boat with the other women and children” Faith recounts. “Panicking that I would go into labour. I could feel my baby moving, he would move down and then move back up again. I had been having contractions for three days.”
MSF Midwife Jonquil Nicholl, who delivered the baby said: “A very normal birth in dangerously abnormal conditions. I am filled with horror at the thought of what would have happened if this baby had arrived 24 hours earlier; in that unseaworthy rubber boat, with fuel on the bottom where the women sit, crammed in with no space to move, at the mercy of the sea,”
Newman Otas might also have a right to claim French citizenship, since the vessel he was born on had a French flag.