The body of a toddler washed up on Norway's shore on New Year’s Day. It took the Norweigan authorities more than five months from that date to confirm his identity through retrieving and matching DNA.
He was 15-month-old Artin Iran Nezhad. Artin’s family – his mother, Shiva Mohammad Panahi, his father, Rasul Iran Nezhad, his sister, Anita, nine, and brother, Armin, six - all drowned on 27 October 2020 trying to seek a new home in the UK by crossing the English Channel.
“They had a lot of hope about making a new life in the UK. Shiva had many beautiful dreams for the children. She wanted them to get a good education at schools in the UK and then go on to university. Anita wanted to become an actress and had already passed some acting screen tests. Of course, Artin did not understand about crossing the Channel and reaching the UK, but the two older children did.” an asylum seeker who he knew the family well told the Guardian.
Had the family had money to pay a more expensive smuggler, he believes they might all still be alive today. Artin’s family had originally approached a smuggler offering a relatively safe passage but that person had rejected them because they could not afford to pay him what he wanted. “They had very little money,” said the asylum seeker. Another smuggler was charging less said the asylum seeker. “But he forced them to cross when the weather was bad, in an overcrowded boat..."
Hostile rhetoric surrounding immigration has long been characterised by deliberately dehumanising images and terminology. Suspicion towards migrants is often infused with racism. Making it harder to claim asylum does nothing to prevent tragedies such as the drowning of babies.