Italy is scaling down its migrant rescue programme as the number of people trying to reach its shores soars.
Operation Mare Nostrum – or ‘Our Sea’ in Latin – was launched in November last year after more than 400 migrants died when their boats capsized off Italy’s southernmost island, Lampedusa.
Since then, it has been credited with saving tens of thousands of lives.
In 2012, the number of migrants arriving in Italy by sea had dropped to 13,200, with 600 deaths.
Since Operation Mare Nostrum was launched, it has swelled to 139,000, with more than 3,100 losing their lives.
The route many migrants are taking is from North Africa to Italy – escaping wars in Iraq and Syria, poverty and unrest in the Horn of Africa and West Africa, and chaos in Libya and Egypt.
Reporting from Reggio Calabria in southern Italy, Al Jazeera’s Claudio Lavanga said: ‘Many among those rescued in the past year knew there were warships out there looking for them.
“Now the fear is that if the operation suddenly ends, others who attempt the dangerous crossing across the Mediterranean may be waiting for help that will never come.”
This is an emotional issue, with many arguments about the pros and cons of assisting those fleeing their homeland by illegal means. The injustices, hopelessness, desperateness of many people’s situation is driving them to desperate measures.
What do we pray? Ask God to help you see with his eyes and pray as he shows you his heart.