After the latest migrant shipwreck in the Mediterranean, an Italian cardinal has lamented that, on the European refugee crisis, “everyone talks, everyone makes promises, everyone makes plans, but nothing changes”.

Driving the news

Cardinal Francesco Montenegro, the Archbishop of Agrigento, in Sicily, was speaking after thirteen women refugees died in a shipwreck off the coast of Lampedusa.

More than fifty migrants were aboard the boat. Seventeen are still missing.

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Go deeper

“If nothing is done to solve [the refugee crisis], the solution won’t come by itself”, Montenegro deplored.

“You can’t change history just by talking. It takes someone to finally start changing things”.

“Europe is showing that it is still unable to address this problem”, the cardinal denounced.

“Or, I don’t want to be bad, but maybe it doesn’t want to. Because to face these problems means to lose popularity and so we, in order to stay afloat, prefer that others sink”, Montenegro decried.

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Why it matters

Europe has shown that it “is not capable of welcoming”, the cardinal denounced.

Montenegro observed that “for years [Europe] has been saying that things will change”.

“Yes, things change: the numbers of the dead change but things remain the same”, he lamented.

“The same feelings and emotions as always are repeated: wonder, because others wonder why these things happen. And anger, because these things happen.

“It’s strange that we continue to count the dead and the story continues to be what it is. So many words, but words can’t change lives”, the cardinal explained, warning that “each one of us is a little bit guilty” for the deaths.

“There are people who want to live and we decide that they should not have this desire. This is why in the face of these facts there can be only silence and the attempt to understand why the human heart is so closed”.

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For the record

Cardinal Montenegro said he made what he called a “pilgrimage” to the House of Fraternity on Lampedusa to pay tribute to the dead migrants who “belong to me because I too am a citizen of this world”.

He said he wept for the dead “without a name, with an unknown face”, but said we need to see the anonymous victims more like siblings, “or else things will not change”.

Montenegro blessed the thirteen victims before their coffins were loaded on to a military aircraft.

With the latest tragedy off Lampedusa, the number of migrant dead in the Mediterranean this year has now risen to 1,071, according to International Organisation for Migration (IOM) figures.

Nearly two-thirds of those fatalities have occurred in the waters between North Africa and Italy.

According to the IOM’s Missing Migrants project, the route has seen at least 15,750 people die since the beginning of 2014.

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Pope pleads for action on migrant crisis: “We must not fail to weep. We must not fail to respond”


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