Published: Mon, January 07, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Pope pleads for solidarity with migrants

Pope pleads for solidarity with migrants

Migrants rescued by the NGO vessel Sea-Watch 3 are in "a dire situation", the onboard doctor has reported as Malta and Italy continue to refuse the ship entry into their ports.

Last week almost two dozen humanitarian groups, including Amnesty International, Save the Children and the United Nations' International Organization for Migration called on the European Union to offer a safe port to both vessels.

At midday prayers in St Peter's Square the Pope called on Europe to show "concrete solidarity" towards the migrants, whose fate has caused a row between Italy and Malta and opened cracks in the populist Italian government.

Amid growing concern over the plight of the migrants, some of whom have been at sea for more than two weeks, the European Commission earlier this week called on EU member states to admit them.

Another ship run by the German group Sea-Eye is carrying 17 people rescued on 29 December.

"I address a pressing appeal to European leaders that they show some concrete solidarity with respect to these people".

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Last week, almost two dozen humanitarian groups, including Amnesty International and the United Nations' International Organization for Migration, called on the European Union to offer a safe port to both vessels.

The NGO also defended the method of rescue after doubts were cast by Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on Sunday morning.

Muscat said that Malta's position when it came to dealing with migration was "very simple" and was based on namely two principles which go hand-in-hand: firstly that human life is safeguarded and secondly that there are no compromises on national security. "This is an issue that might set a precedent and we should be vigilant about it", he said.

"Now, Malta has to do its part". Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, said the country would take in woman and children but only if Malta let the ships dock. He also questioned whether Malta would be getting any help from other countries in dealing with the 249 migrants that they had just rescued.

Italy and Malta are predominantly Catholic nations but the Church's influence in politics has waned significantly in recent years.

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