Syrian and Iraqi immigrants getting off a boat from Turkey on the Greek island of Lesbos

Italian priest calls for ‘Day of the Unknown Migrant’

Italian priest Aldo Buonaiuto has called on the international community to observe a ‘Day of the Unknown Migrant’ in honour of the “thousands and thousands of people without a name and without a face buried or dispersed in the depths of the sea or in the deserts” after trying unsuccessfully to reach Europe.

Driving the news

Buonaiuto, founder of the online newspaper In Terris and member of the Italian Associazione Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII, spoke to SIR days after a boat with at least 80 migrants on board capsized near the town of Zarzis, in Tunisia.

“The heart bleeds in front of this news. We are facing a daily horror that risks becoming ordinary”, said Buonaiuto after rescue workers recovered the corpses of at least 38 African refugees.

“We are talking about innocent people who in these journeys of hope die in the seas, rivers or deserts, looking only for a better future for themselves and for their loved ones. Leaving everything is not easy”, lamented the priest, calling on all European countries to respond to the refugee “emergency”.

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Why it matters

Criticising what he called the lack of a “genuine, common strategy” on the part of Europe to address the “powder keg” situation in Libya, a focal point of the current refugee crisis, Buonaiuto echoed the call of Pope Francis to establish humanitarian corridors as soon as possible to ensure orderly and safe migration to the Old Continent.

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What’s next

“I believe there are thousands and thousands of people without a name and without a face buried or dispersed in the depths of the sea or in the deserts”, said the priest, explaining how he envisions his ‘Day of the Unknown Migrant’. “Invisible people, who will not re-emerge from oblivion. We cannot forget them”.

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Buonaiuto said he had already sent a proposal “to all those who cooperate on the reception front, from the UN, to Europe, from Holy See to the Italian Government”. There is also an online petition to observe the Day that has gathered over 2,000 signatures.

According to the priest, it would be “a day of solidarity, of humanity, which allows us but above all new generations to always remember, to remember this silent massacre, because we are them and they are us, there is no difference”.

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