Pope Francis today repeated his closeness to migrants, asking for prayers in silence after praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square. The Holy Father appealed to the international community to act.
“I express my closeness to the thousands of migrants, refugees, and others in need of protection in Libya: I never forget you; I hear your cries and I pray for you,” the Pope said. “So many of these men, women, and children are subjected to inhuman violence.
“Once again, I call on the international community to keep its promises to seek common, concrete, and lasting solutions for the management of migratory flows in Libya and throughout the Mediterranean. And how those who are turned away suffer! There are real dangers there. We must put an end to the return of migrants to unsafe countries and give priority to saving lives at sea, with rescue devices and predictable disembarkation, guaranteeing them decent living conditions, alternatives to detention, regular migration routes, and access to asylum procedures. Let us be aware of our responsibility for these brothers and sisters of ours, who have been victims of this very serious situation for too many years. Let us pray together for them in silence.”
UN appeal for action
The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, appealed for urgent action on Friday, October 22, 2021, to save lives and prevent further suffering at the border with Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. The latest casualty was reported within the past few days.
At least eight people died along the border between Belarus and the European Union, where multiple groups of asylum-seekers, refugees, and migrants have been stranded for weeks in increasingly dire conditions.
Among those stranded are 32 Afghan women, men, and children. They have been left in limbo between Poland and Belarus since mid-August, unable to access asylum and any form of assistance. They do not have proper shelter and no secure source of food or water.
UNHCR warned that the situation will further and rapidly deteriorate as winter approaches, putting more lives in danger.
For the Agency’s Regional Director for Europe, Pascale Moreau, “when fundamental human rights are not protected, lives are at stake.”
Situation dire in Libya
The Libyan government must immediately address the dire situation of asylum-seekers and refugees, in a humane manner, consistent with international human rights law, the UNHCR said on Friday.
The situation for some 3,000 people currently sheltering outside the Community Day Centre (CDC) in Tripoli, “is very precarious” UNHCR said. Many people have been affected by the raids; their homes have been demolished and they have escaped from detention after suffering terrible conditions.
Others have joined the group hoping to be evacuated, the agency added. “Many have been left homeless and lost all their belongings as a result of the security operation and are now sleeping in the cold and in a very unsafe environment.