Pope Francis
Pope Francis says leaving migrants to die at sea is 'attack against life' and similar to abortion.ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Francis has compared abandoning migrants in the Mediterranean to abortion and euthanasia.

Addressing Italy's Science and Life Association, Pope Francis said: "The scourge of abortion is an attack against life.

"Leaving our brothers on boats to die in the Sicilian channel is an attack against life. Death from malnutrition is an attack against life. Terrorism, war, violence, but also euthanasia are attacks against life."

Pope Francis further said that a nation's progress is measured by, "its capacity to protect life, especially during the most fragile stages," and not necessarily by technological achievements.

"Sacredness of every human person" is vital, stressed Pope Francis.

Meanwhile, on Friday (29 May), the Italian navy rescued nearly 3,300 migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean.

On Saturday (30 May), Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People, told the Vatican Radio, reported RT News: "What is the cause of immigration and refugees? For immigration, poverty. For refugees, war. Until there is an end to poverty and war, nothing will change."

Cardinal Veglio criticised Europe for the emerging migrant crisis, saying there has been no consistent effort made to devise a proper immigration programme besides mere "patch up" in emergency situations.

So far in 2015, nearly 1,826 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which is a 30-fold increase for the same period in 2014.

UN figures also reveal that at least 40,000 people have tried to cross the Mediterranean between January 2015 up until April.