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EU must help migrants, says Pope

by Hannah Tooley

The Independent has reported that since Italy ended search-and-rescue missions, known as Mare Nostrum, six months ago the situation has become much worse.

One week ago a migrant boat capsized and 400 people, many children, are feared drowned, and it has been reported that more than 10,000 migrants have been pulled from rickety vessels at sea since Friday 10th April.

Speaking in Italy, alongside the President Sergio Mattarella, the Holy Father said: " I express my gratitude for the commitment that Italy is making to welcome the many migrants who, risking their lives, ask to be taken in.

"It's evident that the proportions of the phenomenon require much broader involvement.

"We must never tire of appealing for a more extensive commitment on the European and international level."

Almost 200,000 people have been rescued at sea by Italy since the beginning of 2014. It has been reported that the number of deaths of refugees in Mediterranean crossings has risen 50 times since search-and-rescue ended. It was replaced with a more limited operation that works within 30 miles of the Italian coastline.

After Italy announced the end of search-and-rescue last autumn, Britain said it would not support any EU rescue operations because it would "encourage" migrants to attempt the crossing.

Save the Children has launched a petition to resume the rescue operations. Speaking in The Independent, it said: "The position of the next UK government could tip the balance of EU talks and help scale the rescue missions.

"We are calling on all political leaders to say where they stand: do they want to restart the rescue and stop children drowning?"

The European Commission will be meeting on May 27th to discuss a new agenda for migration.

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