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June 20 2013 | ROME, ITALY

World Refugee Day 2013 - Prayer Vigil

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Today at Santa Maria in Trastevere, the memory of migrants who died in the "journeys of hope". The prayer will be presided over by Card. Antonio Maria Vegliò, President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants.


On the occasion of the World Refugee Day 2013, the Community of Sant'Egidio, the Astalli Centre Association, the Italian Caritas, the Migrantes Foundation, the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy and the ACLI, have organized a prayer vigil for the sixth consecutive year in memory of the victims of the journeys to Europe, with the participation of communities and associations of immigrants, refugees and volunteer organizations.


Even today, many men, women and children leave their own homeland with the hope of being able to escape war, persecutionsdiseases and famine, trying to reach a place where they can build their own future.


In his message to the Pontifical Council for Migrants, Francis Pope invited the government leaders, legislators and the entire international community to think about"effective initiatives and new approaches to protect the dignity of refugees and forced immigrants”. As Pope Francis has pointed out, they are "human beings, who appeal for solidarity and support, who need urgent interventions but, also and above all, understanding and kindness" READ THE POPE'S MESSAGE

Not all migrants are able to reach the goal: many, no one knows how many, can not even reach the North African coasts because they die in the long journey through the desert. Others find death in the Mediterranean:almost 19,000 since 1988 until now. They are men, women and children escaping hunger, war and persecutions, and they still die in many parts of the world. They are human beings so desperate as to risk their own lives to reach the thresholds of salvation that Europe represents for them and their children.


Italy recorded 13,245 arrivals in 2012, and nearly 5,000 in the first months of 2013. With the arrival of good weather the "journeys of hope"which turn into tragedy for many, have resumed. On the news we watched the arrival of 95 refugees in Lampedusa clinging to the buoys of a tuna cage after having been saved from the shipwreck of the boat on which they were travelling. According to their testimony, at least seven of their fellow sufferers lost their lives in the sea crossing. Calabria is again a place of arrival for Syrian refugees and the news of this event arrived three days ago.


The prayer vigil is promoted so as not to forget the hope of many people and the suffering of those who seek refuge and to not get used  to these tragedies, and  to commit ourselves to a more humane and just world. We also wish to ask the governments, legislator and the European community to make every effort to protect refugees and to safeguard the lives and dignity of migrants. To open humanitarian corridors and create a European Drop-in Centre at an experimental level in Lampedusa.

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