Pope Francis called over the weekend to fix “great and deep wound” opened by the migration crisis in a speech during his official visit to Morocco, which has become a hub for sub-Saharan migrants trying to reach Europe. “We do not want our response to be one of indifference and silence,” Pope Francis said when speaking to about 80 migrants at a Catholic charity center in Rabat, the Moroccan capital. King Mohamed VI welcomed the Pope as he arrived on the visit aimed at boosting Christian-Muslim ties and showing solidarity with Morocco’s growing migrant community.
“Protection must first and foremost be ensured along migration routes, which, sadly, are often theatres of violence, exploitation and abuse of all kinds,” Pope commented, adding that once migrants reach their destinations, they face many “forms of collective expulsion.” Such approach has been advocated in EU member states such as Italy and Hungary, where anti-immigrant leaders are currently at the helm. While the issue seems to have gotten out of the hottest political agenda, it is still fuelling far-right parties across the continent. But, at the same time, Pope Francis also urged migrants to learn the local language and respect the law and culture of their host countries.
Prior to his trip to Morocco, the Pope expressed his frustration with European capitals not being willing to offer havens to migrant and aid vessels from the Mediterranean. By contrast, Francis praised Morocco as a model of religious moderation and migrant welcome and warned that border walls and fear-mongering won’t stop people from exercising their rights to seek a better life elsewhere. Because of the political instability and the deals between tribal leaders in Libya who have shut off the country’s southern border, Morocco has now become the most popular destination for migrants on their way to Europe. 57,000 crossed the Strait of Gibraltar last year heading to Spain – now the preferred entry point to Europe.