ROME — Pope Francis has called out the human traffickers behind a recent shipwreck in southern Italy that resulted in the deaths of scores of migrants.
As Breitbart News reported, on February 26 a vessel carrying nearly 200 migrants shipwrecked off the coast of the southern Italian region of Calabria. Initial reports suggested that at least 43 had died, a number later adjusted upward to 67, including 12 children.
The voyage was believed to be part of an ongoing human smuggling effort engaged in ferrying migrants across the Mediterranean Sea into Italy, and Italian police immediately arrested an alleged human trafficker found among the survivors of the shipwreck. Police later detained two more men in connection with the people-smuggling operation.
The three arrestees were a Turkish man and two Pakistani nationals, who allegedly asked the migrants for about €8,000 each to make the journey from Turkey to Calabria. Most of the migrants on the vessel were Middle Eastern, hailing from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
I express my sorrow “for the tragedy that took place in the waters of Cutro, near Crotone,” Pope Francis said Sunday following his weekly Angelus address. “I am praying for the numerous victims of the shipwreck, for their relatives and for those who survived.”
While thanking the local population and institutions for their “solidarity and hospitality” toward migrants, the pontiff renewed an appeal “that similar tragedies may not be repeated.”
“Let the human traffickers be stopped so they do not continue to dispose of the lives of so many innocent people!” he said.
“May the journeys of hope never more be transformed into journeys of death,” he continued. “May the clear waters of the Mediterranean never more be bloodied by such tragic accidents! May the Lord give us the strength to understand and to weep.”
Thomas D. Williams is Breitbart Rome Bureau Chief and the author of The Coming Christian Persecution.