Radio Erena: 02 October, 2014
Pope Francis on Wednesday had a private and reportedly emotional audience in the Vatican with a group of migrants who survived a shipwreck near the southern Italian island of Lampedusa a year ago.
The pontiff called on European men and women to open their hearts to the migrants’ plight. “I want to say that I am close to you, I pray for you and I pray that all closed doors shall open” said the pontiff according to Vatican press officer, Father Federico Lombardi.
The boat disaster took place on October 3, 2013 and claimed the death of 368 people, most of them Somali and Eritrean refugees.
Another disaster 10 days later claimed 34 lives. Lombardi specified that the delegation who met with the pope was composed of 37 Eritreans made up of survivors and their families, coming from European countries such as Germany, Sweden, Norway, Holland and Denmark.
Some of the migrants spoke to the pope in English, others in their language, thanking him for his commitment and pleading for his continued support.
Francis travelled to Lampedusa in July 2013 where he denounced “the globalization of indifference” including attitudes towards migrants who risk their lives trying to reach Europe via Italy from Africa.