Updated on Jul 20, 2018. Posted on Jul 19, 2018

    This Woman Was Abandoned At Sea And The Photos Of Her Rescue Are Haunting

    "Her gaze says it all."

    This woman was pulled from the wreckage of a ship full of refugees off the coast of Libya on Tuesday.

    Juan Medina / Reuters

    The group that rescued her, Spanish nongovernmental organization Proactiva Open Arms, told BuzzFeed News she had been in the water for 48 hours.

    Juan Medina / Reuters

    She was found next to two bodies. One was the body of a 5-year-old boy and another was the body of a woman.

    Proactiva / Twitter

    "It was the Libyan coast guards who left them, her and the other woman and the boy. Our doctors found out, they stated that both of them had died not long before we arrived," Laura Lanuza, a spokesperson for the group, said.

    Juan Medina / Reuters

    Lanuza confirmed the woman's name is Josefa and was unsure of the woman's age but estimated that she is between 20 and 30 years old. She is believed to have fled from Cameroon because of domestic violence.

    "She is still in severe shock, and she is improving bit by bit but very slowly. She can’t speak, and she hardly sleeps. We hope that she will be improving in the coming days," she said from Barcelona, where she was coordinating with the rescue boat. The boat was making its way to Majorca, Spain.

    "Josefa is the only person who has a testimony of what happened that day and this episode." she said, "The Libyan coast guard can be accused of a lack of help and of abandoning these people in the middle of the sea. Obviously, this person is in danger because it is not easy testimony for [the] politics so this woman has to be protected."

    It has been reported that the Libyan coast guard rescued more than 100 people roughly 80 miles off the coast Monday. A spokesperson for the Libyan coast guard denied that anyone was left behind after the rescue. "All disasters happening in the sea are caused by human traffickers who are only interested in profit and the presence of such irresponsible, nongovernmental groups in the region," coast guard spokesperson Ayoub Gassim told German news outlet DW.

    Pictures of the woman were rapidly shared online, with many people expressing their shock for her ordeal.

    Roberto Jones
    Twitter: @ruidophoto

    "Josefa spent 48 hours holding onto a piece of wood in the middle of the sea. The Libyan coast guard left her with another woman and a child who did not survive. Her gaze says it all in this picture."

    Twitter: @MarcGasol

    "Frustration, anger and helplessness. Amazing that they abandon people in the middle of the sea. Deep admiration for those who these days are my teammates."

    Twitter: @gryphonalex

    "The eyes, the eyes of this woman are the very image of the dehumanization that Europe is coming to."

    Twitter: @pabl0godoy

    "We can, we MUST do more."

    This is the latest incident in escalating tensions between Italian authorities and nongovernmental organizations working in the Mediterranean.

    Last month, Italian authorities refused to take in more than 600 refugees, leaving them stranded until Spanish officials offered to take the men, women, and children.

    Italy's new interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has promised that "not one more person arrives by boat." Since 2014, more than 640,000 refugees have arrived in Italy, aiding a rising right-wing political sentiment against refugees and migrants. Salvini's harsh promises have brought condemnation from international NGOs, and also from countries like Spain and France.

    Although the overall number of people attempting to reach Europe has fallen, proportionately, there are more deaths because a lack of NGO rescue ships makes the already dangerous crossing even more perilous.

    Rose Troup Buchanan is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Rose Troup Buchanan at Rose.Buchanan@BuzzFeed.com.

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