Pope comforts migrants in 2nd trip to Greek island, condemns Europe’s response to crisis

Pope Francis again on Sunday to the Greek island of Lesbos to provide convenience to migrants at a refugee camp and blast what he mentioned used to be Europe’s indifference and self-interest “that condemns to demise the ones on the fringes.”

“Please, let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!” Francis said at the Mavrovouni camp, a cluster of white United Nations boxes at the fringe of the ocean coated via barbed twine fencing and draped with laundry drying in the air.

A maskless Francis took his time walking during the camp on Sunday, patting youngsters and babies on the head and posing for selfies. He gave a thumbs up after he was serenaded by means of African ladies singing a music of welcome.

It used to be Francis’s 2d go back and forth to Lesbos in five years. He lamented that little had changed since 2016, while Lesbos was once at the middle of an immense wave of migration to Europe and while the pontiff introduced 12 Syrian Muslim refugees from the island back house with him aboard the papal aircraft.

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That concrete gesture of harmony had raised hopes among current citizens of the Lesbos camp, some of whom have given birth to kids right here whilst looking ahead to their asylum claims to be processed. But there have been no papal airlifts on Sunday, and Francis returns to the Vatican on Monday.

Pope comforts migrants in 2nd trip to Greek island, condemns Europe's response to crisis

Migrants acquire out of doors their container houses as police secure the realm ahead of the Pope’s visit on the Karatepe refugee camp on Sunday. (Alessandra Tarantino/The Related Press)

“It Is a grace for us that the Pope is coming right here. we’ve got so much of problems right here as refugees, so much of struggling,” stated Enice Kiaku from Congo, whose -year-vintage son on her lap was once born on Lesbos. However like little Guilain, she has no id files and is stuck.

“the coming of the Pope right here makes us really feel blessed, as a result of we hope the Pope will take us with him because here we suffer,” Kiaku mentioned as she waited in a tent for the Pope to reach.

‘let us prevent ignoring reality’

Francis’s five-day out to Cyprus and Greece has been ruled by the topic of migration and his demand European international locations to show higher team spirit with those in want. He insisted on Sunday that Europe should prevent building partitions, stoking fears and closing out “the ones in larger need who knock at our door.”

through the first leg of Francis’s travel in Cyprus, the Vatican announced that 12 migrants who had crossed over from the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north could be relocated to Italy within the coming weeks. Cypriot officials, who say the european Union island nation cannot accept extra migrants, mentioned a total of fifty could in the end be despatched.

Pope comforts migrants in 2nd trip to Greek island, condemns Europe's response to crisis

Pope Francis hugs a migrant throughout his discuss with on the Karatepe camp on Lesbos. The Greek island was once on the middle of a tremendous wave of migration into Europe six years in the past. (Alessandra Tarantino/The Associated Press)

“I ask each guy and lady, all people, to conquer the paralysis of concern, the indifference that kills, the cynical forget that nonchalantly condemns to demise those at the fringes,” Francis said on Sunday. “allow us to prevent ignoring fact, stop constantly transferring duty, forestall passing off the issue of migration to others, as though it mattered to nobody and was once only a needless burden to be shouldered by someone else.”

He denounced the reality that the Mediterranean Sea, “the cradle of so many civilizations,” had transform a vast cemetery where smuggling boats jam-packed with desperate people too regularly sink.

“let us not allow our sea (mare nostrum) be reworked into a desolate sea of loss of life (mare mortuum),” he mentioned.

Greece defends reaction

Sitting sooner than the Pope in a tent at the water’s area was once Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, ECU Fee Vice-President Margaritis Schinas and might-be refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq and Congo, amongst other international locations.

Addressing Francis, Sakellaropoulou strongly defended Greece’s response to the desires of migrants and thanked the pontiff for appearing his fortify with his presence.

“It’s the strong message of wish and responsibility that may be conveyed from Lesbos to the international neighborhood,” she mentioned.

Pope comforts migrants in 2nd trip to Greek island, condemns Europe's response to crisis

Pope Francis shakes palms with Greece’s President Katerina Sakellaropoulou throughout a rite at the Karatepe refugee camp on Sunday. (Louisa Gouliamaki/The Associated Press)

The camp, where tents had been only in the near past replaced with boxes, is definitely a short lived holding centre that changed some other camp that burned down final 12 months. It used to be built pending the development on the island of a “closed managed facility,” essentially a detention camp.

Those new camps, that are funded by way of the ecu but have run afoul of human rights businesses, are already operating on three different Greek islands: Samos, Leros and Kos.

Greater Than one million other folks, many fleeing warfare in Iraq and Syria, crossed from Turkey into Greece during 2015 and 2016, with Lesbos the busiest Greek crossing element. The go with the flow will have ebbed in Lesbos, but it surely hasn’t stopped, and anti-migrant sentiment in Greece and beyond has handiest hardened in the ensuing years — with the latest flashpoint on the EU’s Polish border with Belarus.

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Greece recently constructed a metal wall alongside a piece of the Greek-Turkish land border and is intercepting boats transporting migrants from the Turkish aspect. It denies allegations that it’s finishing up abstract deportations of migrants attaining Greek territory, however human rights teams say numerous such pushbacks have happened.

Amnesty International mentioned the brand new ECU-funded detention camps on Greek islands have been in violation of Athens’ commitments to supply global protection to these in need. “Beneath world and EUROPEAN law, asylum-seekers will have to simplest be detained as an issue of last hotel,” Amnesty mentioned.

Greek Migration Affairs Minister Notis Mitarachi defended Greece’s response on Sunday, saying it had “selflessly” answered to the concern in 2015 and used to be continuing to offer asylum-seekers with coverage. He demanded the ecu do extra to assist front-line countries like Greece.

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