Pope Francis Calls for “urgent aid, assistance” to Migrants in Northern Africa

Pope Francis presides over a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome on July 23, 2023, for the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. | Vatican Media

Pope Francis is calling upon governments in Africa and Europe to urgently help migrants in North Africa, who he said are undergoing “unspeakable suffering”.

In his Sunday, July 23 Angelus address, the Holy Father said that drama “continues to unfold for migrants in the northern part of Africa.”

“I address my appeal, in particular to the European and African heads of state and government, to give urgent aid and assistance to these brothers and sisters,” Pope Francis said in his Angelus address on the third annual World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, which he established in January 2021.

He added, “Thousands of them (migrants), amidst unspeakable suffering, have been trapped and abandoned in desert areas for weeks.”

According to the Migration data portal, six Northern African countries, including Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia “have historically been and remain significant countries of migrant destination, transit, and departure. Economic, environmental and political instability contribute to the mixed migration patterns observed in the sub-region.”


The global report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) at the end of 2022 indicates that “32,100 new asylum-seekers, 44% of them children, were identified and registered in North Africa, primarily Malians, Sudanese, and Syrians.”

The report further indicates that “117,000 refugees and migrants crossed by sea from North Africa to Europe, 23% more than in 2021. 24,800 were disembarked in Libya after rescue or interception.”

In April this year, the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner’s report indicated that since 2014, over 26,000 people have died or gone missing in their attempts to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

The report also disclosed that over 20,000 people along the Central Mediterranean route, which is considered among the deadliest migration routes in the world have also died or gone missing since 2014.

Earlier this month, migrants from sub-Saharan Africa had to flee from Tunisia to deserts along the border with Libya and Algeria following the racial tensions in the Tunisian coastal city of Sfax (central-eastern Tunisia).

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“May the Mediterranean never again be a theater of death and inhumanity. May the Lord enlighten the minds and hearts of all, arousing feelings of fraternity, solidarity, and acceptance,” Pope Francis said during his July 23 Angelus address.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.