Refugees and migrants suffer brutality and abuses along the routes to the Mediterranean. Many fall prey to traffickers and smugglers and are extorted, raped, and sometimes killed or left to die. Many of them flee violence and persecution and have dire and urgent protection needs.
Since 2014, more than 25,000 deaths and disappearances have occurred in the Mediterranean, with the Central Mediterranean Route being one of the busiest and most dangerous migration routes to Europe.
As of 25 September this year 67,851 people arrived by sea to Italy, a 54% increase compared to arrivals registered during the same period in 2021. Of these, 76% were men, 18% children, and 6% women. While the most common countries of origin were Egypt, Tunisia, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. Sicily, in particular, continues to be the main landing place for migrants traveling to Italy, recording 51,000 arrivals. Additionally, in the first 9 months of 2022, 1,088 migrants died or went missing trying to cross the Central Mediterranean, including 38 children.
In August 2022, many NGOs called for the launch of a European-led search and rescue effort in the Central Mediterranean to prevent further deaths.
During his Apostolic Journey to Malta, recalling one of the many tragic shipwrecks that occurred off the coast of Libya, the Holy Father prayed for the many migrants who lost their lives, while stressing that “another kind of shipwreck is taking place: the shipwreck of civilization, which threatens not only migrants but us all” and inviting everyone to “the way of fraternity and social friendship.”