Children Highlight Migrants' Desperation in Canary Islands Journey

The tales of desperation that flood the Canary Islands' shores with hundreds of arriving African migrants include those from people too tiny to speak.

Six babies, some younger than 7 months old, were among more than 700 migrants intercepted Monday trying to reach the Spanish islands off northwest Africa, and start a better life in Europe.

CountryWatch: Spain

Rescue workers receiving three of the boats on the island of Fuerteventura said they were startled to hear an infant crying in the frenzy of the emergency operation.

Amid the crush of migrants on one boat, they found a dark-skinned black woman cuddling an albino boy — "chubby and well-fed, and not even a year old," Red Cross emergency worker Jorge Roger said.

A gaggle of new crews surrounded the pair, snapping photos before the two were taken to a hospital for checkups.

Minutes later another crowded boat reached the shore, this time with five infants on board, he said.

One woman arrived with birth-related injuries, and said she had miscarried before leaving Africa and buried the child in the Sahara Desert, aid workers said.

"It must have happened very shortly before she left, because she was bleeding very heavily," said Gerardo Mesa Noda, head of the Red Cross in Fuerteventura, one of the islands nearest to the African coast.

Fuerteventura's capital, Puerto del Rosario, has a shelter for parents arriving with babies. But it was built for only 20 people, and is now overflowing as hundreds of thousands of Africans have arrived in the archipelago in recent weeks.

There are currently 28 men, 13 women and 10 babies at the shelter, some of whom will be sent to another island, Gran Canaria.

Though babies have occasionally arrived with the waves of immigrants, receiving six in one day is considered exceptional, aid workers said.