World

Pope thanks Italy for migrant rescue effort, says huge numbers means Europe must pitch in more

  • Migrants stand on the deck of the Italian Navy ship "Driade" prior to being disembarked in Messina's port, Sicily, Italy, Saturday, April 18, 2015. Italian ships have picked up some 10,000 people, many of them refugees of war and persecution, over the past week, an unprecedented number in such a short period. The influx is putting pressure on Italy's shelter system and raising calls for a better response to the emergency. (AP Photo/Carmelo Imbesi)

    Migrants stand on the deck of the Italian Navy ship "Driade" prior to being disembarked in Messina's port, Sicily, Italy, Saturday, April 18, 2015. Italian ships have picked up some 10,000 people, many of them refugees of war and persecution, over the past week, an unprecedented number in such a short period. The influx is putting pressure on Italy's shelter system and raising calls for a better response to the emergency. (AP Photo/Carmelo Imbesi)  (The Associated Press)

  • An Italian Navy officer gives instruction to migrants who are waiting to disembark from Italian Navy ship "Driade" in Messina's port, Sicily, Italy, Saturday, April 18, 2015.  Italian ships have picked up some 10,000 people, many of them refugees of war and persecution, over the past week, an unprecedented number in such a short period. The influx is putting pressure on Italy's shelter system and raising calls for a better response to the emergency. (AP Photo/Carmelo Imbesi)

    An Italian Navy officer gives instruction to migrants who are waiting to disembark from Italian Navy ship "Driade" in Messina's port, Sicily, Italy, Saturday, April 18, 2015. Italian ships have picked up some 10,000 people, many of them refugees of war and persecution, over the past week, an unprecedented number in such a short period. The influx is putting pressure on Italy's shelter system and raising calls for a better response to the emergency. (AP Photo/Carmelo Imbesi)  (The Associated Press)

  • A migrant holding a child receives first aid upon disembarking from Italian Navy ship "Driade" in Messina's port, Sicily, Italy, Saturday, April 18, 2015. Italian ships have picked up some 10,000 people, many of them refugees of war and persecution, over the past week, an unprecedented number in such a short period. The influx is putting pressure on Italy's shelter system and raising calls for a better response to the emergency. (AP Photo/Carmelo Imbesi)

    A migrant holding a child receives first aid upon disembarking from Italian Navy ship "Driade" in Messina's port, Sicily, Italy, Saturday, April 18, 2015. Italian ships have picked up some 10,000 people, many of them refugees of war and persecution, over the past week, an unprecedented number in such a short period. The influx is putting pressure on Italy's shelter system and raising calls for a better response to the emergency. (AP Photo/Carmelo Imbesi)  (The Associated Press)

Pope Francis is asking the European Union to do more to help Italy with the mounting numbers of desperate people needing rescue in the Mediterranean on risky boat journeys to flee war, persecution or poverty.

After meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the Vatican Saturday, Francis said it's "evident the proportions of the phenomenon require much boarder involvement." He urges tireless appeals to "solicit a more extensive commitment at the European and international level."

Francis thanked Italy for rescuing and sheltering the refugees and other migrants whose numbers approach 200,000 since the start of 2014. More than 10,000 arrived in the past week alone.

Italy says it will continue saving migrants abandoned at sea by smugglers but demands that the European Union increase assistance to shelter and rescue them.