Pope weighs in as Italy refugee influx accelerates again

Pope Francis salutes the crowd from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St.Peter's Square at the Vatican, on November 16, 2014Pope Francis weighed into Italy’s immigration crisis on Sunday, warning the country it faced a “social emergency”, as the influx of asylum seekers blamed for mob violence in Rome accelerated again. Using his weekly address to the crowd in St Peter’s square to comment on last week’s attacks on a refugee centre in Rome, the pope warned that the tensions would only get worse without action to foster dialogue. His warning came as authorities in southern Italy were preparing to process more than 2,200 would-be immigrants picked up from boats off the country’s southern coastlines between Friday evening and Sunday afternoon. The return to such high numbers of migrants arriving on overcrowded boats crewed by people smugglers was a blow to hopes that the flow would ease off with the approach of winter and in the aftermath of Italy’s decision to end its naval search-and-rescue operation Mare Nostrum from November 1.

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