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Mediterranean Sea Is Becoming 'Vast Cemetery' for Migrants: Pope

 / Updated  / Source: Reuters
European Union stars encircle the face of Pope Francis as he arrives to address the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, France, on Tuesday.CHRISTIAN HARTMANN / EPA

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STRASBOURG, France — Pope Francis told Europe's leaders on Tuesday to do more to help thousands of migrants risking their lives trying to get into the continent, saying they had to stop the Mediterranean becoming "a vast cemetery." Addressing the European Parliament for the first time, the pontiff spoke of Europe's immigration crisis a few days after 600 migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean between Sicily and North Africa. "There needs to be a united response to the question of migration. We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery." he said. "The boats landing daily on the shores of Europe are filled with men and women who need acceptance and assistance." The pope also called on European powers to work together to protect immigrants from human traffickers.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that 3,200 migrants have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean so far in 2014.The Argentine pope has made defense of migrants a key plank of his papacy. He chose the tiny southern Italian island of Lampedusa, which many migrants have died trying to reach, as the venue for his first trip as pontiff.

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 Pope Francis addresses the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, on Tuesday. VINCENT KESSLER / EPA

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