BFF-25 Pope urges EU leaders to show solidarity with migrants off Malta

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Pope urges EU leaders to show solidarity with migrants off Malta

VATICAN CITY, Jan 6, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Pope Francis on Sunday urged EU
leaders to show “concrete solidarity” with 49 migrants stranded on NGO ships
off the coast of Malta who have been refused permission to land.

“Forty nine migrants rescued in the Mediterranean by two NGO ships have
been onboard for several days now, waiting to be able to disembark,” Francis
told thousands of people gathered in Saint Peter’s square in Rome.

“I address a pressing appeal to European leaders that they show some
concrete solidarity with respect to these people,” he added.

Amid growing concern over the plight of the migrants, some of whom have
been at sea for more than two weeks, the European Commission earlier this
week called on EU member states to admit them.

The Netherlands and Germany have offered to take some but only if their EU
partners do the same, highlighting again the European Union’s long-running
deadlock over sharing responsibility for migrants.

There are 17 people on board the German NGO Sea-Eye vessel, with another 32
on the Sea-Watch. Among them are a one-year-old baby and two children aged
six and seven.

Both Italy and Malta have refused port access and on Sunday they reiterated
that position.

“In Italy, there are no more arrivals. That is the line and it will not
change,” hardline Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini told the Il
Messaggero newspaper.

“Italian ports are closed and will remain so,” he added in a tweet.

BSS/AFP/RY/1810 hrs