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Photo: Vincenzo Pinto / AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis on Sunday called on the international community to end the practice of returning migrants rescued at sea to Libya and other "unsafe countries," AP reports.

Why it matters: Hundreds of thousands of migrants have taken to the sea, fleeing from the countries like Libya and Turkey. Many were later returned to their county of origin by authorities.

What they're saying: "I express my closeness to the thousands of migrants, refugees and others in need of protection in Libya," Francis said, per AP.

  • "I never forget you," he added. "I hear your cries and I pray for you."
  • "We need to stop sending back [migrants] to unsafe countries and ... guarantee them dignified conditions of life, alternatives to detention, regular paths of migration and access to asylum procedures."
  • The pope also condemned migrant detention facilities in Libya, calling them "true concentration camps." The facilities' conditions have been denounced by the UN refugee agency, which has cited incidents of rape and torture taking place there.

Go deeper

Nov 14, 2021 - World

Gadhafi's son announces presidential bid in Libya

Emad Al-Sayah, chairman of Libya's High National Election Commission, speaks during a press conference in Tripoli on Nov. 7. Photo: Hazem Turkia/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, son of late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, registered as a presidential candidate Sunday for the country's upcoming election, the nation's election agency said in a statement.

Why it matters: Gadhafi's presidential bid comes days after an international conference in Paris was held to pressure Libyan officials to hold a "free, fair, inclusive" presidential election next month.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.