Pope Francis has urged that action be taken to help quell youth unemployment in this upcoming year.

The Pontiff demands today’s youth have a place in society

In a year-end message, the Pontiff emphasized the importance of young people being given the opportunity to have a fighting chance for their “dreams” during an evening vespers service held in St. Peter's Basilica. Pope Francis particularly made light of how today’s youth had been condemned to have “no place in society,” particularly highlighting people having to migrate to other countries and cities to find chances of employment, in addition to having to beg for jobs that either do not exist or do not guarantee financial security.

This is not the first time the Pontiff has made such comments in defense of the unemployed. In a statement made during a Mass this past May, Pope Francis compared modern practices such as unpaid internships and underpaid contract work to slavery and human trafficking, particularly demanding that workers be granted health insurance, and compared employers who make use of such practices as being like “true leeches.”

Youth unemployment on a global scale

While the comments were likely meant to reflect occurrences that are happening worldwide, it has been speculated that Pope Francis’ comments were particularly meant to highlight issues in modern Italy. As it stands, Italy’s population suffers unemployment within 36 percent, and it tops 18 percent among the 28 European Union states.

Outside of Europe, the continent with the highest youth population is Africa, where youth unemployment is at a rate of 30 percent, according to statistics given by the International Labor Organization. This struggle has also made its presence within Europe, as African youth have been migrating to Eastern countries to find employment.

Within 2016, nearly 25,000 migrants were said to be unaccompanied minors, a statistic which is said to have doubled since the previous year, according to reports. Added to that, the struggle of running away to Europe can be dangerous, as around 5,000 men, women, and children are said to have died attempting to migrate to Europe.