There have been many striking images of the migrant crisis in Ceuta, when as many as 9,000 people swam or crossed by foot into the Spanish city in North Africa. The photo of a Civil Guard diver rescuing a baby from the water is one such image, as is the photo of a young Red Cross volunteer hugging a distressed migrant who arrived on Tuesday.
A cameraman from the news agency Reuters recorded the sequence of events leading up to the iconic moment. In the video, Red Cross volunteer Luna Reyes Segura and a soldier help the migrant sit up, seemingly so that he can expel the water he swallowed. The 20-year-old then assists the man to sit down on a rock, where she gives him water. Reyes Segura tries to calm him down and asks if he is okay. At that point, the man bursts into tears and she hugs him and comforts him. In the background, another migrant is heard screaming as soldiers and Civil Guard officers take him away to be deported to Morocco.
“He didn’t stop hugging me, he clung to me like a clam and just cried,” Reyes Segura told state broadcaster TVE in an interview.
After the images went viral, the volunteer was inundated with xenophobic and sexist messages on social media, which forced her to restrict access to her profiles. To counter the abuse, social media users rushed to express their support for Reyes Segura with the hashtag #GraciasLuna, or #ThankyouLuna. The hashtag was used by high-profile figures such as Finance Minster Nadia Calviño and Labor Minister Yolanda Díaz, who are both deputy prime ministers, actress Anabel Alonso and film director Luis Endera.
With information from TVE.
English version by Melissa Kitson.