African boy in X-rayed bag is reunited with his mother
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.
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.
AN EX-RAY FOUND Adou in a suitcase at a border crossing between Morocco and Ceuta in May.