Friday January 21, 2022

Pope calls neglect of migrants ‘shipwreck’ on Lesbos visit

December 06, 2021
Pope calls neglect of migrants ‘shipwreck’ on Lesbos visit

Pope Francis on Sunday returned to the island of Lesbos, the migration flashpoint he first visited in 2016, calling the neglect of migrants the "shipwreck of civilisation".

The pope has long championed the cause of migrants and his visit comes a day after he delivered a stinging rebuke to Europe which he said was "torn by nationalist egoism". "In Europe there are those who persist in treating the problem as a matter that does not concern them," the pope said as he spent some two hours at Lesbos’ Mavrovouni camp where nearly 2,200 asylum seekers live.

On the second day of his visit to Greece, he met dozens of child asylum seekers and relatives standing behind metal barriers and stopped to embrace a boy called Mustafa. "I am trying to help you," Francis told one group through his interpreter.

People later gathered in a tent to sing songs and psalms to the pontiff. Pope Francis warned that the Mediterranean "is becoming a grim cemetery without tombstones" and that "after all this time, we see that little in the world has changed with regard to the issue of migration".

He said the root causes "should be confronted -- not the poor people who pay the consequences and are even used for political propaganda".

The European Union has been locked in a dispute with Belarus over an influx of migrants travelling through the former Soviet state seeking to enter Poland, Lithuania and Latvia in recent months.

Britain and France have also traded barbs over the increasing number of migrants making the deadly Channel crossing to reach the UK in the wake of the November 24 mass drowning which claimed 27 lives. "His visit is a blessing," said Rosette Leo, a Congolese asylum seeker at the site.