Vatican News
Rubber boat that capsized off the coast of Libya on Thursday. Rubber boat that capsized off the coast of Libya on Thursday. 

Prayer vigils for victims of the latest shipwreck off Libya

On Monday, 26 April, the Community of Sant’Egidio, in Italy, will spearhead prayer vigils in memory of victims of the latest shipwreck off the coast of Libya.

Paul Samasumo – Vatican City

As another shipwreck off Libya took the lives of migrants, on Thursday, Italy’s Community of Sant’Egidio appealed for guaranteed rescues at sea and the opening up of new humanitarian corridors.

Yet another tragedy in the Mediterranean 

The European humanitarian group SOS Mediterranee, which operates the rescue vessel Ocean Viking, said late Thursday that the capsized rubber boat, which was carrying around 130 people, was spotted in the Mediterranean Sea northeast of the Libyan capital, Tripoli. The aid vessel did not find any survivors on the scene but could see at least ten bodies near the wreck.

Various humanitarian NGOs have accused the Libyan coast guard and European authorities of failing to meet their responsibilities to save lives. 

“The umpteenth immigration tragedy has sadly occurred off the coast of Libya, with a death toll estimated by some NGOs at over a hundred. The Community of Sant’Egidio expresses its condolences to the families of migrants, who experienced much suffering and abuse while they were attempting to reach Europe,” reads a statement seen by Vatican News. The statement adds, “Sant’Egidio launches an appeal to all authorities who could have tried to rescue the sinking rubber boat - with alarming reports available already on Wednesday - to guarantee the rescue at sea of those in danger.”

Reactivate rapid and efficient sea rescues

Sant’Egidio has called for long term solutions to the crisis and the opening up of legal humanitarian corridors for migrants.

“We need to urgently respond to the request for help coming from migrants attempting to reach Europe - and of those currently in Libya - with long-term projects to empty places of detention, to examine situations case by case and to allow legal ways of salvation like the Humanitarian Corridors. At the same time, we need to build a positive future in the countries of origin - especially for young people - with the support of the European Union,” said Sant’Egidio.

The community of Sant’Egidio urged the European Union to urgently reactivate a rapid and efficient sea rescue network, as required by international law.

Prayer vigils

In the meantime, Sant’Egidio said that on Monday, 26 April, it will observe, in Italy and various European cities, prayer vigils in memory of victims of the shipwreck.

On Monday, starting with Rome’s Basilica of Santa Maria in the Trastevere neighbourhood, prayer vigils will be held in Italy and in other European cities. The prayer vigils will be in memory of the victims of the latest shipwreck off the coast of Libya. “We feel it is our duty to raise our voices and our prayers so that our continent will not be stained by the guilty of indifference but will be faithful to its values of humanity and the defence of rights,” the Community of Sant’Egidio affirmed.

24 April 2021, 17:14