Pope pleads for solidarity with migrants

Pope Enters Fray Over Migrant Ships, Appeals for Safe Ports

Pope appeals for safe port for migrants on rescue ships

"I make a heartfelt appeal to European leaders to show concrete solidarity for these people", he said.

The UN's refugee agency has tweeted that it is concerned for the safety of those who try risky sea crossings when there are "limited" legal routes for them to take.

Pope Francis has urged European leaders to stop bickering over the fate of 49 migrants stuck aboard two humanitarian rescue ships on the Mediterranean and let them land at a safe port of call. "That's the line and it will not change".

There are 17 people on board the German NGO Sea-Eye vessel, with another 32 on the Sea-Watch.

"Italian ports are closed and will remain so", he added in a tweet.

Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said it could set a "precedent", while Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio called on Malta to "do its part".

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Pressed on what he thought should be done in the immediate, given that the migrants, who include children have been on the ships for over two weeks, Fearne said European Union discussions were ongoing to solve the issue.

They are "all crammed into a small room and literally vomit on each other", said Sea Watch spokeswoman Giorgia Linardi, who fears some of the passengers will self-harm.

Malta has also refused migrants permission to leave their vessels but has allowed two boats to enter its waters for fresh supplies.

"It is easy to play the Christmas Saint with everyone, but then come January, February and the summer period we would be told to do the same". The Maltese government retorted that the migrants had been rescued in an area that was outside Malta's search and rescue region and that the ships only sought refuge in Maltese territorial waters after Italy denied them passage.

The plight of child migrants The Office of the Commissioner for Children is following the plight of the migrants aboard the two rescue vessels with deep concern.

But the bloc's long-running deadlock over sharing responsibility for migrants has yet to be resolved.

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