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The untold story of the 'Spanish Aylan'

Samuel with his mother Véronique.
Samuel with his mother Véronique. / SUR
  • Four-year-old Samuel drowned en route to Europe afer his mother, Véronique, took matters into her own hands following a testing wait for a medical visa

The story of little Samuel, the 'Spanish Aylan', won't stir as many western consciences as that of the Syrian boy who drowned off the coast of Greece, but that doesn't mean his story shouldn't be told to highlight the human tragedy which immigration is bringing to the shores of Europe and, on this occasion, the coast of Cadiz province.

This four-year-old from the Congo drowned when the small boat in which he was travelling with his mother sank on 12 January, and his body was recovered days later from the Mangueta beach in Barbate. His mother, Véronique, was bringing him to Spain in the hope of finding him medical treatment for a lung condition; she was also suffering from a serious cancer in the neck and the doctors who were treating her in the Congo said she should try to look for help in Europe, where the therapies are more advanced. Véronique's body was found several days after the accident, on the Algerian coast.

The wait for medical visas

Samuel's father, Aimé Kabamba, said this week that his wife and son waited months in their own country for medical visas, and in the end Véronique decided to try to obtain them in Morocco, where she had contacts.

The wait there lasted an endless eight months, Aimé said, because the bureaucracy is so slow, and in desperation Véronique decided that she and her son would have to be smuggled across in a small boat.

He didn't know the boat had sunk for several days, and only found out via Facebook when he was concerned that he had heard nothing from Véronique. When he heard that a child had drowned, he immediately feared that it was his son, who was the youngest of six children. Aimé has decided not to repatriate his son's body, which had deteriorated badly in the water, so he will be buried in Barbate. This is due to Congo tradition: it would not be thought correct to repatriate Samuel without his mother, who had already been buried in Algeria.

The Kabamba family have expressed their gratitude for all the support they have received from people in Spain and the government, and say they are especially thankful for the assistance from Gabriel Delgado, who is the diocesan delegate for Migration.