By Charles Igwe
Pope Francis expressed deep concern on Sunday over the tragic loss of life in the Mediterranean Sea as thousands attempt to reach Europe in 2023, describing it as an ongoing “open wound” in our humanity. Speaking after the Angelus prayer at the Vatican on August 13, he emphasized the pain and shame that these deaths bring.
According to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR), as of August 13, 2,175 individuals, including men, women, and children, are either dead or missing in the Mediterranean Sea this year. This stark figure is a significant increase from the estimated 1,361 deaths and disappearances during the same period in 2022.
Addressing a gathering of around 15,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis offered his prayers for the 41 migrants who recently lost their lives in the most recent shipwreck tragedy in the Mediterranean. Survivors, rescued near the coast of Italy’s Lampedusa island, reported the shipwreck on Wednesday, as reported by CNN.
The number of migrants arriving in Italy by sea has risen dramatically in 2023, with approximately 90,763 individuals reaching the country’s shores as of August 6, a significant increase from the previous year.
Pope Francis called for political and diplomatic efforts that embody a spirit of solidarity and brotherhood to address the heartrending issue of migrant deaths. He also commended the work of those striving to prevent shipwrecks and rescue migrants, urging collective efforts to heal the ongoing tragedy in the Mediterranean.