Migrants should not be ‘instrumentalised’, says Pope

Published November 29, 2021
CATHOLICS hold a banner made of different nations’ flags during the Pope’s address.—AFP
CATHOLICS hold a banner made of different nations’ flags during the Pope’s address.—AFP

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis on Sunday expressed sorrow over migrants who have died trying to reach Europe in search of a better life, saying they should not be “instrumentalised.”

“I think of those who died crossing the English Channel, those on the borders of Belarus, many of whom are children, and those who drown in the Mediterranean. There is so much sorrow when thinking about them,” the pope said during his Sunday Angelus prayer.

“I renew my heartfelt appeal to those who can contribute to the resolution of these problems, especially civil and military authorities, so that understanding and dialogue may finally prevail over any kind of instrumentalisation.”

The pontiff spoke after 27 people drowned in the Channel on Wednesday trying to reach Britain.

In Belarus, a migrant crisis has seen thousands of people, mostly Kurds from Iraq, stuck on the border as they try to enter EU member Poland.

The EU has accused Belarus strongman President Alexander Lukashenko of orchestrating the crisis in retaliation for EU sanctions against the ex-Soviet state, charges that Minsk has denied.

The pope asked the faithful gathered in St. Peters Square for the traditional Sunday blessing to pray for migrants and their suffering.

Those present included members of an association of migrants with whom he met a day earlier at the Vatican, and who held an enormous banner comprised of flags from countries around the world.

How many migrants, lets think about this, how many migrants are exposed to very serious dangers also in recent days? How many lose their lives at our borders? the pontiff said.

I feel pain at the news of the situation in which many find themselves. Of those who died in the English Channel, of those at the border of Belarus, many of whom are children. Those who drown in the Mediterranean. How much sorrow, thinking of them.

The deaths of 27 migrants in the English Channel have shocked both Britain and France. Still, shipwrecks of that scale are not uncommon further south in the Mediterranean Sea as migrants flee poverty, natural disasters and authoritarian regimes for a better life in Europe.

UN officials estimate that as many as 1,600 people have died or are missing in the Mediterranean this year alone, their bodies usually not found and their deaths related only by survivors.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2021

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