Rome, Aug 10 (EFE).- Pope Francis struck a note of compassion on Thursday, urging the world “not to remain indifferent” to migrant tragedies after 41 people died in a shipwreck off the Italian island of Lampedusa.
“With sorrow I heard about the news of the shipwreck involving migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. Let us not remain indifferent to these tragedies, and let us pray for the victims and their families,” the pontiff wrote on the microblogging site X previously called Twitter.
The boat, carrying 45 migrants, including three children, had departed from the port of Sfax in Tunisia last Thursday.
It capsized about six hours later after being hit by a large wave, according to local media reports.
An unaccompanied 13-year-old child, a woman, and two men from Ivory Coast and Guinea survived the disaster after a passing motorboat rescued them.
The four survivors, who narrated their ordeal, were transferred to a Coast Guard patrol boat that brought them to Lampedusa. They had survived by clinging to a metal boat abandoned by other migrants.
The prosecutor’s office in Agrigento in southwest Sicily has launched an investigation into the incident.
Only 15 of the migrants who were traveling in a precarious metal vessel were wearing life jackets, yet they drowned nonetheless, the survivors told Italian social services and the mediators of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), who work regularly on Lampedusa – the closest Italian territory to Africa.
The United Nations renewed its “call for wider access to safe and regular pathways for migration and asylum in the European Union, to prevent people from having to resort to dangerous journeys in search of safety and protection.”
The UN reiterated the need for coordinated search and rescue mechanisms and urged countries “to increase resources and capacities to effectively meet their responsibilities.”
On Saturday, two other shipwrecks were reported off Lampedusa in which 34 people died, according to accounts of the 57 people who were rescued, although only three bodies could be found in the midst of a heavy storm.
The latest death add to the growing toll of shipwrecks in the Central Mediterranean.
According to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, more than 1,800 people have already been reported dead and missing along the route this year.
The Central Mediterranean is one of the most active and most dangerous migration routes globally, with more than 75 percent of the victims in the Mediterranean over the past 10 years having been recorded in the Central Mediterranean.
The Italian interior ministry has said almost 94,000 migrants have landed on Italian shores so far this year, more than double the nearly 45,000 in the same period of 2022. EFE