Letting migrants die at sea was an “attack against life” akin to abortion or euthanasia, Pope Francis has said.
Decrying victims of abortion, euthanasia, terrorism, trafficking and other travesties, the pontiff told members of the Italian Science and Life Association on Saturday that progress in civilisation should not just be measured technological advancements, but also by the ability to “protect life during the most fragile stages.”
“Abortion is an attack against life. Leaving our brothers on boats to die in the Sicilian channel is an attack against life,” the pontiff said.
His comments came as reception centres across Sicily and southern mainland Italy struggle to host the latest wave of more than 5,000 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean at the weekend, according to Frontex, the European Union’s border agency.
During 22 separate operations carried out by naval vessels and merchant ships, 4,200 migrants were saved in 24 hours.
Authorities were expected to carry out autopsies in coming days of the 17 migrants found dead by Italian Navy rescuers in order to determine cause of death. The most recent fatalities brings the death toll of men, women and children to die or go missing at sea this year to nearly 1,800, according to the International Organisation for Migration.
By Andrea Vogt