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Pope Francis pained by migrant deaths

Monday, July 08, 2013 - 01:08

Pope Francis visits Italian island of Lampedusa to pray for the many African migrants who've died making the perilous crossing to Europe. Tom Dinham reports.

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Pope Francis is welcomed to the Italian island of Lampedusa. Just 70 miles off the coast of North Africa, the island is one of the main entrypoints for African migrants trying to reach Europe. Hundreds, even thousands have drowned trying to make the crossing to the island in flimsy, crowded and unsafe boats. Forty people have died this year alone trying to cross from Tunisia - deaths the pope said motivated his visit. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) POPE FRANCIS SAYING: "When a few weeks ago I heard this news which has repeated itself so many times, my thoughts kept returning to me, like a thorn in my heart bringing me pain. I thought then I needed to come here today to pray. To carry out a gesture of closeness and to re-awaken our consciousness so that what's happened never happens again." The island saw a huge influx of migrants in 2011 during the Arab spring uprisings. The UN says almost 8,000 migrants and asylum seekers landed in southern Italy in the first half of this year, the majority of them from North Africa.

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Pope Francis pained by migrant deaths

Monday, July 08, 2013 - 01:08