After arriving on Lampedusa on Monday morning after a flight from Rome, Francis boarded a coast guard launch and tossed a wreath of white and yellow flowers into the sea in memory of the men, women and children who drowned.
Just hours before his arrival, a boat reached the island carrying 166 migrants, many of them looking exhausted and traumatised and some barefoot.
A few had to be helped onto stretchers while others were given water and food.
After disembarking at Lampedusa's small harbour, he met a group of young immigrants, many of them teenage boys from Eritrea and other African countries, on the quayside.
One of the teenagers told the pontiff that he and other refugees had "suffered terribly" on their journeys after being "robbed" by people traffickers. He said he hoped that help would come from "other European countries"...
Since 1999, more than 200,000 people have arrived on Lampedusa – making the island one of biggest gateways for undocumented migration into Europe.
the UKTelegraph story has photos; what I found astonishing is that some "catholic" blogs complained he said mass on an altar that was a fishing boat; and some "right wing" sites complained he was friendly to Muslims, encouraging them to find God in their Ramadan fast.
Yet refugees are not just trying to get into Europe:
StrategyPage has this article on Yemen:
July 10, 2013: In addition to its own economic and political problems Yemen is also stuck with over a million refugees from Africa, many of them brought over by Yemeni smugglers (most get to Yemen via Somali and other African smugglers).In other words, poor Yemen has more refugees fleeing there than Italy.
But in their usual tart manner they include this dirty little secret:
and then there is the Saudi crack down on their own illegal aliens. Every day we hear about more coming home to the Philippines.
About half the refugees are from Somalia. Hosting all these people is an economic burden, even if foreign aid use used to supply most of the refugee needs. But with worsening water shortages and growing unemployment, even the foreign aid does not solve all the problems the refugees cause. Yemen has been unable to get other countries to provide more help, in part because a lot of the aid is stolen by Yemenis.
But Yemen is in trouble here too:
Yemen has also asked international refugee organizations for help in dealing with over 200,000 Yemenis forced from Saudi Arabia in the last three months as the Saudis crack down on some two million illegal migrant workers in the country.
the PhilStar says there are 10 thousand illegal Pinoys affected by this decision (but most of us suspect there are a lot more)
This Saudi story says they have eliminated 240 thousand such workers.
the Saudi crackdown is about their own unemployment rate: trying to insist folks hire local Saudis than foreigners, especially instead of illegal foreigners who work for lower wages.
But it has resulted in lower wages for those who work legally too...