On the death of Fatoumata Bamba in the Lampedusa hotspot
Fatoumata Bamba, 25, was left for dead in the Lampedusa hotspot on 18 February. She is the third victim at the hotspot in the last two months. A cloak of silence and indifference has fallen over these deaths. In this last case we only know her name and the description of what happened thanks to her husband’s account, reported in a single article, published yesterday in English, which we translate below.
“A young couple from the Ivory Coast left Tunisia last month in search of a better life in Europe. But after landing safely on the Italian island of Lampedusa, only one of them made it to the continent alive.
Fatoumata Bamba arrived in Lampedusa on the morning of 18 February after travelling with her husband from Sfax, Tunisia, on a small iron boat carrying some 20 sub-Saharan migrants.
Four days later, the 25-year-old’s coffin was transported from Lampedusa to a mainland village in the southern province of Agrigento.
We met her husband, Kone Bakary, 29, in Agrigento. When we arrived, he sat devastated on a chair, staring into space. After a couple of minutes, he found the strength to share the story of how he lost his love, Fatoumata.
Lack of oxygen
“She died from lack of oxygen, she was asthmatic,” Bakary said, recalling the couple’s first day in Italy.
“When we arrived, my wife had asthma problems. I tried to help her with insufflations, and the police called the ambulance to take her to the outpatient clinic in Lampedusa. When she arrived, the doctors said she just needed to rest’.
That day in the migrant centre, more than 3,600 people crammed into a space that could only hold 400.
“People slept outside without blankets, there was no food for everyone, the sanitary conditions were very bad,” recounted migrants on site in testimonies collected at the centre by the Italian Asgi (Association for Legal Studies on Immigration).
Kone recalled the sound of children crying as he tried to take care of Fatoumata: ‘They cried and cried and no one helped them.
No help from the doctors
At 2pm, Fatoumata arrived at a hospital in Lampedusa, a facility that, according to InfoMigrants sources, often suffers from a shortage of medicines and medical equipment. ‘I told the doctor that my wife needed oxygen, explaining that she suffers from asthma, but the doctor told me that it was not a respiratory problem and I did not have a medical certificate to prove it,’ said Kone. At 7.50pm, Fatoumata was lying on the floor [of the hotspot, where she had been taken]. The ambulance arrived and she was resuscitated, but it was too late. “Fatoumata had to be evacuated from Lampedusa because she had a breathing problem, but nobody believed it,” said Kone. “Fatoumata’s life could have been saved elsewhere.”
Kone, who saw his wife die before his eyes, wants the truth to come out: “Now I am waiting for the day of the funeral, but Fatoumata could have been saved.
They were married when they were very young in a village near Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire. Kone said they loved each other strongly and when they left Côte d’Ivoire in 2020, they both shared a dream of a better life in Europe.”