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Pope Francis Urges Action After Migrant Boat Tragedy Off Libyan Coast

Vatican Radio - Aleteia - published on 04/18/15

700 people feared dead

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has appealed to the international community to take swift and decisive action to prevent more tragedies of migrants seeking a better life.

His appeal came following news of the sinking of yet another boat carrying migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, 60 miles off the Libyan coast. Some 700 people are feared dead.

Addressing tens of thousands of faithful and pilgrims after the Regina Caeli in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said: “They are men and women like us, our brothers seeking a better life, hungry, persecuted, wounded, exploited, victims of war.  They were looking for a better life.”

“I express my deepest sorrow in the face of such a tragedy and assure the missing and their families of my remembrance in prayer,” he said.

“I address a heartfelt appeal to the international community to act decisively and promptly, to prevent such tragedies from occurring again,” he added, before asking the crowd to pray “for these brothers and sisters.”

The latest in a series of migrant boat tragedies happened last night, when a boat carrying migrants capsized off the Libyan coast, in one of the worst disasters seen in the Mediterranean migrant crisis.

Just Saturday, Pope Francis joined Italian authorities in pressing the European Union to do more to help the country cope with rapidly rising numbers of desperate people rescued in the Mediterranean on journeys on smugglers’ boats.

As hundreds of migrants took their first steps on land in Sicilian ports, dozens more were rescued at sea. Sicilian towns are running out of places to shelter the arrivals, including more than 10,000 just in the last week.

Since the beginning of 2014, nearly 200,000 people have been rescued at sea by Italy.

Italy says it will continue rescuing migrants but demands that the European Union increase assistance to shelter and rescue them. Since most of the migrants want to reach family or other members of their community in northern Europe, Italian governments have pushed for those countries to do more, particularly by taking in migrants while their requests for asylum or refugee status are being examined. 

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