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Rome Reports

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The Gate to Europe? Italian mayors talk about massive immigration

From wars to natural disasters and poverty, the reasons why people leave their home countries in search for a better future, are many.  Usually these boats are part of the journey.  Survival is just one of many steps that come along the way. For those who make it, a set of challenges follow. The two Italian cities where this is seen on a daily basis is Palermo and Lampedusa.  In fact, that was the very first city Pope Francis traveled to as Pontiff. The Pope highlighted the problem issuing a call to for local and international communities to respond accordingly. This is what he said upon hearing of the death of 350 people along the Mediterranean.  POPE FRANCIS  October 3rd, 2013"I can't escape the pain, when thinking of the many victims of the tragic shipwreck in Lampedusa today. The word that comes to mind is shame...It's a shame!â? His words were direct and they struck the very core of the city. Mayor Giusi Nicolini is the mayor of Lampedusa. GIUSI NICOLINI Mayor of Lampedusa (Italy) "We feel the Pope close to us.  Ever since his visit to Lampedusa, he remembers those who've died. He highlights the aid we provide and he gives us a few words of encouragement. We feel very close to him.â?   She is one of dozens of mayors taking part in a Vatican conference on modern slavery and climate change. The goal is to highlight the connection with climate change, poverty and migration. Another goal is to sign an accord so that city leaders take concrete action.  GIUSI NICOLINI Mayor of Lampedusa (Italy) "It's something that gives us confidence and hope. It makes us feel like we're not alone.â?  The coast of Palermo also experiences this daily and sometimes fatal problem. An estimated 2,000 people arrive there every week in these unstable boats.  LEOLUCA ORLANDO Mayor of Palermo (Italy) "We are witnessing a true genocide. It will eventually end and Europe will be responsible for its inaction. We are against this genocide in Europe. It even makes us feel ashamed.â?  In fact a global accord on migration is titled 'Palermo.' A total of 159 countries signed it, but still its measures have not been fully implemented. Now leaders from Italy and abroad, are hoping Pope Francis will keep on focusing on the issue, so that concrete help can be seen out on the ground.  AC/KLH  AA -SV -PR Up: JPB