Pope Francis is asking the European Union to do more to help Italy with the mounting numbers of desperate people needing rescue in the Mediterranean on risky boat journeys to flee war, persecution or poverty.
After meeting Italian president Sergio Mattarella at the Vatican, Francis said it is “evident the proportions of the phenomenon require much broader involvement”. He urged tireless appeals to “solicit a more extensive commitment at the European and international level”.
Francis thanked Italy for rescuing and sheltering the refugees and other migrants whose numbers approach 200,000 since the start of 2014. More than 10,000 arrived in the past week alone.
Italy says it will continue saving migrants abandoned at sea by smugglers but demands that the European Union increase assistance to shelter and rescue them.