Pope Francis warns against the exploitation of migrants for politics on his visit to the Greek island of Lesbos.
During a visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, Pope Francis slammed Europe’s indifference to the plight of refugees as a “shipwreck of civilisation.”
The Catholic Church’s leader came at the Mavrovouni camp, which is home to approximately 2,200 asylum seekers. He’s on day two of a five-day trip to Greece and Cyprus, which is dominated by the problem of migration.
He urged the Mediterranean Sea to remain a cultural bridge, using Latin terminology.
Pope Francis denounced the political exploitation of migrants, lamenting the Europe had reached “an era of walls and barbed wire.”
The last time the Pope visited Lesbos was in 2016, when almost a million people crossed from Turkey into Greece, making the island one of the busiest crossing locations. On that occasion, Francis flew 12 Syrian Muslim refugees back to the Vatican on the papal jet.
Although no such transfers were announced this time, the visit to the camp instilled hope in its members, some of whom had given birth to children while awaiting the processing of their asylum requests.
Guiliain was born two years ago to Congolese Enice Kiaku. He was born on a Greek island, but he lacks identification papers.
When Francis arrived, he was greeted by a group of African ladies who sang for him. As he toured the camp and posed for photographs, he patted the heads of youngsters and babies.
He was accompanied by Katerina Sakellaropoulou, the President of Greece, and Margaritis Schinas, the Vice-President of the European Commission.
Greece constructed a steel wall along its border with Turkey to stop boats carrying migrants from Turkey.
It disputes charges that it conducts summary deportations of migrants who enter Greek territory, but human rights organizations claim that such deportations have occurred on several occasions.
Pope Francis also listened to the camp’s inmates, including Christian Tango Mukaya, who expressed gratitude to Pope for his gesture of solidarity and plea to Europe.
During their journey, the refugee said he lost track of his wife and third child, and hoped that his visibility with the Pope would help him reunite them.
The European Union is funding these new closed camps, which are already in operation on three other Greek islands: Samos, Leros, and Kos.
New EU-funded detention camps on Greek islands, according to Amnesty International, violate Athens’ pledges to give international protection to individuals in need.