With the rising death toll of migrants and refugees attempting the treacherous voyage across the Mediterranean Sea, Pope Francis urged world leaders to act to prevent further tragedy.
“I make a heartfelt appeal to the international community to act decisively and promptly in order to prevent such tragedies from recurring and to guarantee the safety, respect for the rights and dignity of all,” the pope said on 22nd July after reciting the Angelus prayer with an estimated 25,000 people gathered in St Peter’s Square.
According to the International Organization for Migration’s Missing Migrant Project, an estimated 1,490 migrants have died in the Mediterranean Sea this year. The pope expressed his pain “in the midst of such tragedies” and offered his prayers “for the missing and their families.”
In Italy, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has barred several rescue ships from docking and has vowed to stop any foreign boats carrying rescued migrants into the country. The move has hampered rescue efforts of migrants trying to escape war, violence, persecution and poverty.
Before making his appeal, the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading in which Jesus invites his disciples to rest after their first mission, but the gathering of a large crowd prevents them from relaxing and eating.
Picture: Migrants, intercepted aboard a makeshift boat in the Mediterranean Sea, are seen after arriving on a rescue boat on 22nd July at the Spanish port of Algeciras. (CNS photo/Jon Nazca, Reuters).