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The Senseless Death Of Children Is Not Something We Can Ignore

05/09/2016 10:54

Just over a year ago you will have seen a photograph of the lifeless body of Alan Kurdi on an Aegean beach. It was said that the photograph "shook the world", but more than 3,000 more people have died, or are missing, in the Mediterranean this year alone. We, and our politicians, might disagree about many things but we should all agree that the senseless death of children - on any scale - is not something that we can ignore. The politics may be complex and in the hands of others, but basic human empathy is something we can all feel and do something about.

This is a cause that resonates strongly with me because, 42 years ago, I fled a war-zone with my family, crossing the Mediterranean in an overloaded boat. We were more fortunate than many and I was given the sanctuary and opportunity to live, get an education, work and have a family of my own. The debt of gratitude that my family and I owe, and which I feel daily, defies description.

It was, for me, a privilege to be asked to advise Save the Children on their ambitious project to procure, equip, crew and deploy a search & rescue vessel to the central Mediterranean. The legal, practical and operational challenges have been many, but the resolve of Save the Children has been unwavering and the vessel will be deployed later this month to the waters between North Africa and Italy. There, it will work together with the Italian Coastguard to rescue the desperate from the water, to provide basic needs, medical care and, above all, safety.

My flight took place 42 years ago, but in 2016 thousands of children remain at risk of drowning - and too many are drowning. The Save the Children vessel is a means by which direct and effective aid can be extended to children in dire need. Countless others have made their contribution to this project with time, expertise and money. They, like me, do not see any purpose in attempting to classify the desperate as refugees, migrants, opportunists. We see, simply, children in mortal danger.

No child chooses to be born in a war-zone or in any other hopeless situation. No child chooses to flee their home, abandoning everything except hope. We have the power and the means to help these children.

To donate to Save the Children's Search and Rescue ship visit:
www.savethechildren.org.uk/rescue-at-sea

Alex Panayides is a lawyer and partner in global law firm Clifford Chance LLP, proud supporters of Save the Children.

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