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Military action will not help migrants, says cardinal

Migrants wait to disembark in Catania (PA)

The leading Vatican official on migration has warned against the use of military action to deal with the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.

After a European Union (EU) summit on the crisis held in Brussels on Thursday, Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, criticised a proposal to bomb boats used by smugglers.

“There is international law,” Cardinal Veglio said, in an interview with Italy’s Religious Information Service. “Bombing a country is an act of war. And what are they aiming at? Just the migrants boats? Who can guarantee that the weapons will not also kill people nearby? You can destroy all the boats, but the problem of migrants fleeing wars, persecutions and poverty will still exist.”

He added: “Fight against the causes of migration. Try and make the countries from which they flee better.”

Thousands of migrants have died this year attempting to reach Europe from north Africa.

Cardinal Veglio said he was not happy with a decision made by EU leaders to triple funding for Mediterranean rescue operations. More funding was necessary, he added, but it should be in conjunction with “a long-term programme” and a “serious migration policy”.

The cardinal criticised EU countries for offering financial support but leaving countries such as Italy and Malta to take in the arriving migrants. “All are willing to give money, as long as they are not disturbed [by taking in refugees] in their own country,” he said.