The archbishop of Palermo has launched an appeal for a change in European migration policy. He called for an end to pushbacks of migrants such as those by Libyan coast guards in the Mediterranean.
Palermo Archbishop Corrado Lorefice said on 4 January that he hopes "2021 brings a real change to European policies," launching a new appeal following news of the "most recent tragedies in the Mediterranean".
"We are called to react, as human beings and as Christians," Lorefice said. "My appeal is that 2021 opens in a sign of a new, real reflection that soon leads to a change in the sharing of European rules," he said.
The death of little Joseph
Corrado referred to the death a migrant child off the Libyan coast in December. "Just one month ago, we were crying together over the death of little Joseph, who remained in everyone's hearts, in one of the many dramatic shipwrecks that we witnessed in the past year," Lorefice said.
The bodies of four children aged between five and 10 were discovered by rescue workers on the seashore west of the Libyan capital Tripoli on December 16.
"Today we have confirmation that the bodies of the four children ... off the Libyan coast, in a general silence, died of drowning during a pushback, one of the many pushbacks carried out by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard," he said.
Pushbacks 'are a violation of human rights'
"We will never grow tired of repeating that pushbacks constitute a serious violation of the principle of non-refoulement under the Geneva Convention, violate international human rights, trample the Gospel, and betray universal brotherhood," Lorefice said.
"We cannot fail to be indignant, also as Christians," he said.