Pope Francis Prays for Migrants as Hundreds Drown in Mediterranean

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Pope Francis asked the world to pray for the refugees and migrants, at the close of a deadly week in which around 200 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean.

On the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis said that refugees and migrants were “forced to flee their homes.”

Libya has become a key route for illegal migration since the 2011 revolution. Authorities have been unable to control migrant trafficking routes across the vast shores. This has raised concerns for Mediterranean countries, especially Italy and France.

In the past week alone, nearly 200 migrants traveling from Libya drowned in five separate incidents. Migrants in distress are often helped by passing boats or NGO rescue vessels. On these occasions no Italian ships were able to come to their aid, due to restrictions on civil sea rescues.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Monday, that more than 500 migrants have been rescued off the Libyan coast in the past week. The organisation also said that 9,448 illegal migrants, including women and children, have been already been rescued and returned to Libya so far this year. In 2019, 9,225 migrants were reported by IOM to have been rescued.

Last week, Amnesty International urged the European Union to reconsider cooperation with Libyan authorities, over the “horrific abuses” of refugees and migrants.