Do not exploit migrants for political ends, says Pope during visit to Lesvos | Migration news


Pope Francis denounced Europe’s fear and indifference to migrants during his second visit to the Greek island of Lesbos.

Pope Francis called Europe’s indifference to the plight of migrants a “shipwreck of civilization” during a visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos.

On Sunday, the head of the Catholic Church arrived at Mavrovouni camp, where nearly 2,200 asylum seekers currently reside. It is on the second day of a five-day visit to Greece and Cyprus dominated by the issue of migration.

“I ask every man and woman, all of us, to overcome the paralysis of fear, the indifference that kills, the cynical contempt that casually condemns the marginalized to death,” he said. “Please stop this sinking of civilization. “

Using Latin terms, he called for the Mediterranean Sea to remain a bridge between cultures.

“Let us not let our sea (mare nostrum) turn into a desolate sea of ​​death (mare mortuum),” he said.

He also condemned the exploitation of migrants for political ends, deploring that Europe has entered “an era of walls and barbed wire”.

Pope Francis criticized Europe’s indifference and interest in migrants [Alessandra Tarantino/AP]

The Pope last visited Lesvos in 2016, when more than a million people crossed Turkey on their way to Greece and the island became one of the busiest crossing points. On this occasion, Francis brought home 12 Syrian Muslim refugees aboard the papal plane.

No such transfer was announced this time around, but the visit to the camp nonetheless raised hopes among its residents, some of whom have given birth to children while their asylum claims are processed.

Enice Kiaku from Congo gave birth to Guiliain two years ago. He was born on the Greek island but has no identity papers.

“The arrival of the Pope here makes us feel blessed,” Kiaku told The Associated Press. “We have a lot of problems here as refugees, a lot of suffering. “

Francis was greeted on his arrival by a group of African women who sang for him. He patted the heads of children and babies as he toured the camp and posed for selfies.

Pope Francis welcomed children to the Mavrovouni camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. [Vatican Media/­Handout via Reuters]

He was accompanied by Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and Vice-President of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas.

Greece recently built a steel wall along a section of its border with Turkey and intercepts boats carrying migrants on the Turkish side.

He denies claims that he is carrying out summary deportations of migrants reaching Greek territory, but human rights groups say there have been many such refoulements.

François also listened to the inhabitants of the camp, including Christian Tango Mukaya, a Congolese father of three, who thanked the Pope for his solidarity and for his call to Europe.

The refugee said he lost track of his wife and their third child during their trip and hoped his visibility with the Pope could reunite them.

Mavrovouni is a temporary detention center pending the construction on the island of a “closed controlled facility”.

These new closed camps, funded by the European Union, are already operating on three other Greek islands, Samos, Leros and Kos.

Amnesty International has said that the new EU-funded detention camps on the Greek islands violate Athens’ commitments to provide international protection to those in need.


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