Pope Francis appealed to coastal nations Sunday to intervene and end migrant shipwrecks in the wake of recent migrant deaths in the Mediterranean Sea.
Francis made the appeal during his usual Sunday address in St. Peter’s Square, where he mourned the deaths of migrants whose smugglers’ boats had wrecked or capsized on the way to European countries like Italy. He assured the victims’ families that he would pray, not only for them, but for the loved ones they have lost. (RELATED: Pope’s ‘Don’t Close Your Doors’ Refugee Initiative Begins On The 445th Anniversary Of Papal Army Driving Out Islamic Invaders)
Francis urged “the international community to act decisively and quickly so similar tragedies aren’t repeated,” and said the “safety, respect of rights and the dignity of all must be guaranteed” through whatever method nations use to address the issue, according to The Associated Press.
U.N. refugee officials said that, while fewer migrants have arrived in Italy and Malta than arrived in the same period in 2017, there have been more deaths during this year’s crossings. The fewer arrivals are, in part, the result of Italy’s policy of forbidding migrant and aid groups’ boats to dock at port – a policy which Francis approved when it was first enacted, while admonishing other nations to “keep your doors open.”
Italy has also worked with Libyan militias to help stem the flow of migrants out of Libya.
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