Pope Francis has called for solutions to the European migrant crisis that last week cost the lives of 27 people in the English Channel.
The Holy Father used his Sunday Angelus to make a “heartfelt appeal” for an end to problems in France, Belarus and the Mediterranean, which, he said, had become “a tomb” for people trying to reach Europe.
He directed his comments “to those who can contribute to the resolution of these problems, in particular to the civil and military authorities, so that understanding and dialogue can finally prevail over every type of manipulation and direct the will and efforts towards solutions that respect the humanity of these people”.
Francis remarked upon how many migrants were vulnerable “even now, to very serious dangers, and how many lose their lives at our borders”!
The Pope said: “I feel pain upon hearing reports about the situation in which so many of them find themselves – those who died in the English Channel; on the borders of Belarus, many of whom are children, those who drown in the Mediterranean.
“[I feel] So much pain thinking about them,” Francis continued. “For those who are repatriated, to North Africa, captured by traffickers, who turn them into slaves, selling the women, torturing the men.
“For those who, also this week, tried to cross the Mediterranean looking for a land of well-being and found, instead, a tomb. And many others.”
A pregnant woman and three children were among the 27 people who drowned in the worst tragedy in the Channel since the migrant crisis.
The economic migrants tried to cross in a boat one French Minister likened to a paddling pool and which collapsed in the conditions.
Afterwards, Cardinal Vincent Nichols spoke of his sorrow at the drownings of 27 migrants in the English Channel.
“The terrible loss of so many lives in the Channel is a tragic summons to action.
“This event illustrates graphically both the ruthless evil of the traffickers and the desperation of those trying to escape poverty, conflict or persecution in search of a better life.”
He added: “Every one is a child of God, with an innate dignity and worth.
“Focussed international cooperation, safe routes to sanctuary and joint efforts to tackle poverty are all needed in the face of a global flood of desperate humanity.”
France was subsequently criticised by the British Government for failing to halt the flow or migrants to the Channel, to prevent them putting to see in dangerous boats and for allowing trafficking gangs to operate on its territory.
Mr Macron has said the migrants are in transit and “don’t want to stay” in France, a safe country, to claim asylum even though they are told they can.
Those who drowned last week included seven women – one of whom was pregnant – and a girl. Two of the survivors were from Somalia and Iraq.
So far, an estimated 6,000 migrants have succeeded in crossing the Channel in November alone, some of them paying traffickers between 2,000 and 15,000 euros for a chance to climb into a boat.
A total of 27,000 migrants have made the crossing during 2021 and the French authorities, who have been paid £54million by the UK to end the crisis, say they have arrested about 1,500 people smugglers.
The UK has received nearly 38,000 asylum applications in the past year, the highest number since 2004.
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