Pope Francis: appeal to join forces to stop "shameful carnage" of migrants

2014-05-14 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is calling on Europe to unite forces and to put human rights in the forefront as the death toll of migrants trying to reach Europe continues to rise.

Speaking after his catechesis at the General Audience, the Pope asked for prayers for those who have lost their lives in the past days as they crossed the Mediterranean sea in overcrowded and derelict vessels. He described the incidents as “shameful carnage”.

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Meanwhile the death toll from the capsizing of a boat carrying some 400 migrants has climbed to 17. So far 206 immigrants have been rescued, but search efforts continue.
The Italian navy said the boat, that sailed from Libya, went down some 160 km south of the Italian island of Lampedusa.

The sinking follows Sunday’s discovery of the bodies of at least 40 immigrants off the coast of the Libyan town of Garbuli.

Nearly 19,000 immigrants have been rescued since Italy’s government launched the Mare Nostrum (Our Sea) naval operation last October.

James Stapleton, Head of Communications at Jesuit Refugee Service says JRS welcomes Pope Francis’ words: “what he says is what we have been saying for a long time. This is not a question that can be resolved by Italians on their own” he said.

“We need a beefed-up force in the Mediterranean, we need to save lives of people who are trying to seek safety in Europe, but we need a plan by the whole of the European Union because there needs to be more responsibility sharing” he said.

“People are fleeing for their lives, people are prepared to put their lives at risk”. Stapleton says we must understand that. We need to understand that security measures can’t just be to prevent people from arriving, and – he added - it’s not enough to just save small numbers at sea.

“If I understand what the Pope is saying: we want to put humans first. The women, the children, all the people who are fleeing Syria, Eritrea and all of the other places where human rights violations are rampant throughout the world” he said.