Catholic Church marks 109th World Migrant and Refugee day amid new crisis

Migrants sleeping in tents
Migrants sleeping in tents Copyright Arnulfo Franco/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AP
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Pope Francis, returning from a two-day trip to Marseille, called for the right not to migrate after the Angelus prayer on Sunday.


Pope Francis stated that no one should be forced to migrate due to war, poverty, or climate crises and that migration should be a choice, not the only option for a dignified life. The pontiff urged communities to be prepared and open to welcoming, promoting, integrating, and accompanying those who seek help, rather than turning them away.

So far this year - over 132,000 people landed in Italy, a sharp increase from the almost 70,000 last year in the same period.

According to the International Organization for Migration, over 27,000 people have died attempting the Mediterranean crossing since 2014.

The European border agency, Frontex, said 114,300 Mediterranean crossings were detected between January and August of this year.

A global Humanitarian crisis

It's not just the European continent that is facing an influx of arrivals.

The Lebanese army and the country’s civil defence recused early Saturday 27 migrants whose boat was sinking off the coast of north Lebanon, the military said in a statement.

The army did not say where the migrants were heading nor did it give their nationalities.

Over the past years, thousands of Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinian migrants took the dangerous trip from Lebanon across the Mediterranean seeking a better life in Europe. Such migrations intensified since the country’s historic economic meltdown began in October 2019.

Lebanon has hosted refugees for years. It has some 805,000 UN-registered Syrian refugees, but officials estimate the actual number to be between 1.5 million and 2 million. Lebanon is also home to tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their descendants, many living in 12 refugee camps scattered around the country.

Over the past months, thousands of Syrian citizens fleeing worsening economic conditions in their war-torn country made it to Lebanon through illegal crossing points seeking better opportunities. Lebanese officials have warned that the flow of Syrian refugees could create “harsh imbalances” negatively affecting the country's delicate demographic structure.

Last month, Lebanese troops detained dozens of Lebanese and Syrian traffickers in the country’s north while they were preparing to send migrants on boats to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea.

Thousands head north to the US

In August, the US Border Patrol made 181,509 arrests at the Mexican border, up 37% from July but little changed from August 2022 and well below the high of more than 220,000 in December, according to figures released Friday.

It reversed a plunge in the numbers after new asylum restrictions were introduced in May. That comes after years of steadily rising migration levels produced by the economic crisis and political and social turmoil in many of the countries people are fleeing.

Most travel through the Darien Gap, a dayslong trek across the rugged Colombia-Panama border. The crossing was once so dangerous that few dared to attempt it, but now so many migrants flood through its dense jungles that it’s rapidly become a migratory highway similar to the trains winding through Mexico.

Crossings of the Darien Gap have shot up so much that they could approach 500,000 people this year alone.

Colombia, which has taken on the brunt of the exodus from Venezuela, has long called on the international community for aid. Panama and Costa Rica, meanwhile, have tightened migratory restrictions and demanded that something be done about hundreds of thousands of people passing through the Darien Gap.

Panama even launched a campaign dubbed “Darien is a jungle, not a highway.”

Meanwhile, the Biden administration has pushed Mexico and Central American nations to control migratory flows and now requires asylum seekers to register through an app known as CBP One.


On Thursday, the Biden administration announced it would grant temporary protected status to nearly a half million more Venezuelans already in the country.

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