African boy in X-rayed bag is re­united with his mother

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Robyn Dixon robyn.dixon@la­times.com Twit­ter: @robyn­dixon_LAT

JO­HAN­NES­BURG, South Africa — A haunt­ing tale that be­gan last month with an X-ray sil­hou­ette of Adou Ou­at­tara crammed into a suit­case be­ing smug­gled into Spain led at last this week to the 8-year-old boy’s re­u­nion with his fam­ily.

Adou’s migration or­deal from Ivory Coast went vi­ral, il­lus­trat­ing the of­ten danger­ous meth­ods used by hu­man smug­glers who make money from the thou­sands of Africans try­ing to make it to Europe ev­ery year.

Many mi­grants drown each year trav­el­ing on un­sea­wor­thy boats, some aban­doned at sea by traf­fick­ers and left with no cap­tain, crew or nav­i­ga­tion aids. Oth­ers try to stow away to Europe in trucks or con­tain­ers. Many are stranded along the route, some­times left to starve in the desert.

The story of the child in the suit­case of­fered a stark por­trait of the hu­man cost of such traf­fick­ing.

Lu­cille Ou­at­tara, who lives in Spain legally with the boy’s fa­ther, Ali, was re­unit- ed with her son Mon­day at a care fa­cil­ity. He had been kept there since May 7 when he was found in the suit­case of a 19-year-old Moroc­can woman at the bor­der cross­ing be­tween Morocco and Ceuta, a Span­ish en­clave in north­west­ern Africa.

The X-ray im­age showed up when the bag was scanned dur­ing a se­cu­rity check. The boy was in the case with a few items of cloth­ing, with­out air vents. As he crawled out, look­ing shocked and ex­hausted, those present snapped pho­to­graphs that swiftly found their way on­line. At the time, of­fi­cials told jour­nal­ists he was in a ter­ri­ble state.

Ali Ou­at­tara and the Moroc­can woman, who is un­re­lated to the fam­ily, were ar­rested and charged with abuse of hu­man rights. A lawyer told jour­nal­ists that the fa­ther be­lieved that his son was be­ing trans­ported by car.

The fa­ther was re­leased Mon­day af­ter his wife paid bail.

“If he had known his son was to be brought in a case he would never have al­lowed it,” said Francesco Luca Caronna, a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing the fam­ily, ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press. “He is a vic­tim of mi­grant traf­fick­ers.”

Caronna said the fam­ily had man­aged to bring one of their chil­dren, an 11-year-old daugh­ter, to Spain but were de­nied per­mis­sion to bring their son be­cause their in­come was too low.

The boy has been granted tem­po­rary res­i­dence in Spain. His fa­ther will face trial.

Jorge Ar­bona Lopez Ceuta City Coun­cil

ADOU OU­AT­TARA, 8, is re­turned to his mother, Lu­cille, in Ceuta, a Span­ish en­clave in north­west­ern Africa. He had been kept at a care fa­cil­ity for a month.

Span­ish Civil Guard

AN EX-RAY FOUND Adou in a suit­case at a bor­der cross­ing be­tween Morocco and Ceuta in May.

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