Pope: Do not send migrants to Libya or 'inhumane camps'

Pope Francis made Sunday an emotional plea for the end to the practice of returning migrants who were rescued by sea from Libya to other countries where they are subject to "inhumane violence."

Pope: Do not send migrants to Libya or 'inhumane camps'

Francis also entered into a contentious political debate in Europe and called on the international community for concrete ways to manage "migratory flows in the Mediterranean".

Francis stated, "I send my deepest condolences to the thousands of refugees, migrants and other people in need of protection in Libya." "I will never forget you, I listen to your cries and I pray that you may rest in peace."

According to authorities, even though the pontiff called for changes in migrant policy and heart in his remarks in St. Peter's Square to the public, hundreds of migrants were either at sea or on the Italian mainland, waiting for rescue. A rubber dinghy was used to send out numerous pleas for assistance.

He said, "So many of those men, women, and children are subjected to inhumane violence,". "Yet, again I appeal to the international community for concrete and lasting solutions that will allow us to manage the migratory flow in Libya and across the Mediterranean."

The pope stated, "How they suffer, those sent back" following rescue at sea. He said that Libyan detention facilities were "true concentration camps."

Francis stated that it was time to stop sending migrants back to unsafe countries. Priority should be given to saving human lives at sea, with protocols of rescue, predictable disembarking, and protocols of rescue, in order to ensure dignity, alternative detention, regular migration routes, and access to asylum procedures.

Officials from the U.N. refugee agency and human rights groups have long condemned the conditions in Libyan detention centers for migrants, citing beatings, rape, and other forms torture, as well as insufficient food. These conditions are endured by migrants for weeks or months, while they wait to be released in unseaworthy rubber dinghies and rickety fishing vessels arranged by human traffickers.

Alarm Phone reported on Sunday that 60 people had called it to request help from their rubber boat. It later said that it lost contact with the deflating dinghy. It claimed that a merchant vessel approached the dinghy. This was apparently in Malta's search and rescue sector.

Separately, Doctors Without Borders reported that 296 migrants on board its rescue ship Geo Barents were waiting for permission to disembark in the waters off Malta. Six migrants were positive for COVID-19. However, due to the cramped conditions aboard, it was impossible to keep them apart from each other.

A ship belonging to the German charity Sea-Watch was allowed to enter Sicily. It had 406 migrants on board.

Many migrants reach the Italian mainland, despite hundreds of thousands of migrants leaving traffickers' boats to reach European shores.

Officials from the Red Cross in Roccella Ionica on the Italian coast said that 700 migrants from Afghanistan arrived in Calabria on boats apparently originating from Turkey.

According to authorities, this year's arrivals have been around 3,400, compared with 480 for 2019. RAI state television reported that the migrants who arrived within the last few days were being kept in tent shelters.

Human rights activists have criticized Italy and Malta for allowing migrants to board crowded rescue boats before they assigned them a safe port.

It has been criticised that the Libyan coast guard was trained and equipped by Italy and has rescued migrants from Libyan waters before returning them to their detention centers.

Doctors Without Borders tweeted Friday that the crew of the Geo Barents had been "witnessed to an interception by the Libyan coast guard."

"We don’t know how many people were intercepted. The humanitarian organization stated that the number of people intercepted is unknown. However, they know that they will be taken to dangerous detention facilities where they can be exploited and violence.

The rising popularity of anti-migrant right-wing parties in Italy has put the Italian government under increased domestic pressure to clamp down on illegal immigration. Italy and Malta have also lobbyed their European Union partners countries to accept some of those rescued at sea. Many migrants hope to find relatives or work in Europe.

"Let us all feel responsible to these brothers and sisters of mine, who for too long have been victims of this very grave condition," the pope stated, concluding his remarks by asking for the faithful to pray silently with him.

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