Join me today in praying for migrants and refugees facing danger crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Africa in the effort to reach Europe. My name is Fouad Abou-Rizk, and I am passionate about international crisis relief. I write Humanitarian Prayers to encourage people to pray for those suffering most in our world.
Lord, I pray that you will protect the lives of African migrants and refugees risking a dangerous boat trip to Europe. I pray that smugglers and traffickers that migrants are often forced to trust on their journey will not continue to threaten their lives through unsafe travel and human trafficking.
I pray that all those put at risk of death in their sea crossings will be saved. I pray that rescue ships will not be hindered in their efforts to save lives.
I pray that migrants who are arrested along African shorelines, especially in Libya, will not continue to be detained in horrible conditions where they suffer abuse.
I pray that whether in Africa or Europe, migrants and refugees will be treated with mercy and compassion by individuals and by governments. I pray that wherever they go or are taken, they will be assisted by people with resources to help them.
I pray for improvement in the situations of violence and extreme poverty that migrants and refugees feel they have no other choice but to flee from, so that they will be able to remain in their own countries while living a dignified life.
Notes and Explanations
Migrants and refugees have been illegally crossing the Mediterranean Sea in a mission to reach the European Union and seek safety and economic opportunity. A refugee is someone fleeing war, persecution, or violence. The most common route in 2019 is for African migrants crossing from Libya to Italy. Many also cross from Morroco into Spain.
It is a very dangerous journey. As of April 14th, The United Nations’ International Organization for Migration has recorded 356 deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea in 2019. In 2018, they recorded a total of 2,299 migrant deaths in the Mediterranean, which was significantly less than the previous four years. 2017 saw over 3,100 deaths in the region.
Many of these migrants and refugees are smuggled across the Mediterranean on boats which aren’t designed for long-distance sea travel. Excessively large numbers of people are often placed on these boats and rafts, often without life jackets, causing many vessels to sink. On January 19th, two separate shipwrecks were believed to have killed 170 migrants.
In addition to the danger of the sea crossing, due to the illegal nature of the trip, some smugglers lead those who pay them to get to Europe into human trafficking.
Rescuing these people has been a significant obstacle due to laws and policies instituted by European countries. European governments have hindered and restricted NGO rescue vessels, causing some to cease operations. The European Union and some countries within it provide funding to the Libyan government, some of which is believed to be used by the Libyan coast guard in capturing and detaining migrants who depart to Europe from the Libyan shoreline.
In Libya, migrants who are apprehended are generally detained. Libya’s detention centers for such migrants are notorious for overcrowding, poor sanitation, torture, sexual violence, and human trafficking. Up to 10,000 migrants are believed to be kept in detention centers.
Anti-immigrant sentiments in Europe have risen greatly in recent years, which has influenced and shaped government policies of many countries. A major provocation of this was how in 2015, over 1 million migrants, mostly Syrian and Afghan refugees, crossed the Mediterannean into Europe. In 2015, over 4,000 migrants died crossing the Mediterreanean.
Kenya-born Somali poet Warsan Shire wrote a powerful poem inspired by her conversations with refugees. One verse reads, “You have to understand, that no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.”
Read a related post, Mass Migration, Compassion, Catholic Social Teaching, and International Law.
Join Humanitarian Prayers’ author Fouad Abou-Rizk in taking a few minutes each day to pray for 7.7 billion people during Lent.
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