Caritas Europa mourns the unnecessary loss of lives outside Lampedusa
Thu, 03/10/2013 - 10:00

By Thorfinnur Omarsson

Caritas Europa joins the prayer and mourning of Pope Francis, who expressed his deep sorrow for the victims of a tragic insident off the Italian island of Lampedusa, where around 100 people died and some 200 are still missing. Caritas Europa reminds the EU Member States to change their migration policies and allow North-Afracan people to enter the EU with other means than by risky boat trips.

“We pray to God for the victims of the tragic shipwreck off the coast of Lampedusa,” Pope Francis said in a tweet. In July he visited the island and condemned the "global indifference" to the plight of migrants trying to arrive there.

At least 94 people are confirmed dead after a boat carrying African migrants sank off the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, the island's mayor told the BBC today. More than 150 have been rescued but about 200 are missing, officials say.

Passengers reportedly threw themselves into the sea as the vessel got into trouble and Italian officials were quoted as saying that dozens of people were still in the water. Most of those on board were from Eritrea and Somalia, said the UNHCR. The boat was believed to have sailed from Libya, the Italian coast guard told the BBC.

Caritas calls on the EU to intervene

Caritas Europa reminds the Member States of the European Union to allow people from North-Africa to enter the EU by other means than by risky and dangerous boat trips. Today’s accident is the latest in series of similar tragedies; earlier this week, 13 migrants drowned while trying to reach Sicily. Caritas Europa calls on the EU to intervene in order to stop these disasters in the Mediterranean.

“How can Europe allow these tragedies to happen? Caritas Europa has repeatedly called for more humane migration policies by the EU and its Member States, such as by resettlements of migrants or the implementation of humanitarian visas. We also support Caritas Italiana’s calls for humanitarian corridors for North-African people. The European Union must make a paradigm shift in their migration policies,” says Jorge Nuño-Mayer, Secretary-General of Caritas Europa.

In a statement, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström expressed her “sincerest condolences to the families of the many people who lost their lives at sea.”

“Europe has to step up its effort to prevent these tragedies and show solidarity both with migrants and with countries that are experiencing increasing migratory flows. We have to become better at identifying and rescuing vessels at risk. We also need to intensify our efforts to fight criminal networks exploiting human despair so that they cannot continue to put people's lives at risk in small, overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels,” she said.

For further information
Karolina Babicka 
Policy and Advocacy Officer 
Migration and Asylum
+32 (0)2 235 26 55

Press contacts
Thorfinnur Omarsson
Communication Officer
+32 (0)473 34 13 93