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Pope: Migrants death in Mediterranean an ‘open wound’ for humanity

August 14, 2023 at 12:25 pm

The Tunisian National Guard rescues irregular migrants off the city of Sfax as they try to make their way to Europe on 12 August 2023. [Yassine Gaidi – Anadolu Agency]

Pope Francis yesterday described the death of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea as an “open wound for humanity”, after a week marked by a series of drowning accidents.

Speaking at his weekly Angelus prayer, the 86-year-old pontiff said he is praying for the 41 people reported missing on Wednesday by four survivors brought to safety on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Pope Francis described as “painful and shameful” the United Nations International Organisation for Migration’s figures, reported earlier on Saturday, showing that more than 2,000 migrants have lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea since the start of the year.

More than 1,800 of them died between North Africa and Italy, the most deadly migration route in the world.

“It is an open wound in our humanity,” he told pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square. “I offer encouragement to the politicians and diplomats who are seeking to heal it, in a spirit of solidarity and brotherhood.” He also hailed “the commitment of all those who work to prevent shipwrecks and rescue sailors.”

He went on to warn against becoming “indifferent” to the deaths.

On Saturday, two Tunisian migrants, including a child, died and five others went missing after a boat sank off the coast of southeast Tunisia, according to the authorities.