Saturday, April 16, 2016

Pope Francis wants to bring refugees to the Vatican

Pope Francis wants to take back to the Vatican a number of refugees after his landmark visit today to the island of Lesbos, an official of Greece's state refugee coordination agency said.

The Pontiff arrived at Lesbos airport for a five-hour visit during which he will spend time with refugees alongside Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew, Church of Greece head Archbishop Ieronymos and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

"This is a voyage marked by sadness, a sad voyage," the Pope told reporters during the flight from Rome.

"We will witness the worst humanitarian disaster since the Second World War. We will see so many people who are suffering, who are fleeing and do not know where to go," he said.

"And we are also going to a cemetery, the sea. So many people never arrived," he said.

Over recent years, Lesbos has become a bye-word for the EU's turbulent interface with the uprooted people of Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.

During today's visit, the world's two most senior churchmen will scan the narrow straits separating them from Turkey, the waters traversed by almost a million trafficked people to date which have claimed the lives of many hundreds.

Recent days have seen the implementation of a controversial deal between Brussels and Ankara designed to stem the flow by sending back to Turkey all migrants whose asylum applications are rejected by Greece.

Along with Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, and His Beatitude Ieronymos, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, the pontiff will visit hundreds of refugees in a fenced complex which has been holding more than 3,000 exiles since last month's deal. ...




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