Pope Francis criticizes EU-Libya migration deal

Pope Francis criticizes EU-Libya migration deal

Pope Francis denounced on Saturday the “sordid agreements” the European Union has made with Libya to turn back migrants and said Europe must show humanity in welcoming them.

Francis told reporters en route to Malta that he wants the Mediterranean to be a “theater of solidarity, not the harbinger of a tragic shipwreck of civilization.”

Francis was referring to the EU’s program to train Libya’s coast guard, which patrols the North African country’s coast for migrant smuggling and brings the would-be refugees back to shore. The program was strongly backed by Italy and other front-line Mediterranean countries to try to stem the flow of hundreds of thousands of desperate migrants each year.

But human rights groups have condemned the EU-funded program as a violation of the migrants’ rights and documented gross abuses in the Libyan detention camps. Just this week, German said its military would no longer provide training to the Libyan coast guard given its “unacceptable,” and in some cases illegal, treatment of migrants.

Francis has condemned the Libyan detention facilities as concentration camps, but he went further Saturday to shame the EU for its complicity in the abuses there.

“Civilized countries cannot approve for their own interest sordid agreements with criminals who enslave other human beings,” he said.