The body of Artin Iran Nejad, a 15-month-old who disappeared in the English Channel last October, has been publicly identified by Norwegian police after being found five months ago.
The youngster drowned on the perilous crossing from France to England along with the rest of his family on October 27, after they embarked on the journey in high winds on the instructions of a people-smuggler.
The bodies of Artin’s parents, Rasoul and Shiva, as well as his two siblings Anita, nine, and Armin, six, were recovered and repatriated from France to their families in Sardasht, Iran on November 13 last year, while a court case against the boat’s captain got under way in France.
But Artin’s body was not formally identified until long after the tragedy. His body was found floating in the water by a Norwegian fisherman on New Year's Day, 2021.
Artin's father was a laborer and his mother, Shiva, had worked since childhood. According to their friends and family in Iran and Calais, the family’s dire economic situation and widespread unemployment in Sardasht had compelled them to leave home and seek asylum abroad. They passed through Turkey, Greece and Italy before arriving in France and living for a time in camps near Calais before finally striking out for Britain in hopes of a better future.
The night they embarked in a small dinghy, the sea was roiling and the waves were reaching heights of one to two meters. Their trafficker ignored the dangers, insisting it was the time to cross. But the waves engulfed the boat, killing several of those aboard including the entire Iran Nejad family. Two other Iranians from Sardasht, Yousef Khezri and Shouresh Souri, also lost their lives and after a time, French police announced they had given up on finding the bodies.
Eight months on, Artin’s body has now been confirmed to have been recovered off the coast of Norway. Uncertainty over his fate had kept his surviving family members in Iran on tenterhooks for months, in the hope that he might one day show up again in another corner of Europe. Instead, however, they have been pitched into another wave of grief.
Police officially announced the identification on the morning of June 7, confirming Artin’s identity after having spoken to Shiva’s family.