STRASBOURG, France — Pope Francis called for leaders in the European Parliament to help the swarms of migrants and workers crossing the Mediterranean and stop the sea from becoming a "vast cemetery" in a speech Tuesday. The pontiff's comments about Europe's immigration crisis came after 600 migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea between Silicy and North Africa Sunday.
The pope appeared before the European Parliament to chastise countries like the U.K. and Italy, who cut off search and rescue operations in October for the thousands of migrants crossing the sea. Though officials have said that search operations only cause more hopeful migrants to emigrate for the chance at employment, the Francis said that the EU should "revolve not around the economy but around the sacredness of the human person."
"The time has come to promote policies which create employment, but above all there is a need to restore dignity to labor by ensuring proper working conditions," he urged. "This implies, on the one hand, finding new ways of joining market flexibility with the need for stability and security on the part of workers; these are indispensable for their human development."
Unemployment is high across the EU at about 10.1 percent, and as high as 40 percent in Spain and Greece, according to Reuters. Still, over 3,200 migrants have drowned trying to reach their shores, the International Organization for Migration estimates.
"There needs to be a united response to the question of migration. We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery!" Francis continued. "The boats landing daily on the shores of Europe are filled with men and women who need acceptance and assistance."