Pope ends Mediterranean trip defending refugee rights


Pope Francis leaves the Saint Dionysius School of the Ursuline Sisters in Athens, Greece, December 6, 2021. Thanassis Stavrakis/Pool via REUTERS

ATHENS (Reuters) - Pope Francis heard from young people including children of migrants who have fled war or poverty at a school in Athens on Monday, as he wrapped up a trip to the Mediterranean in which he defended the rights of refugees and condemned those who exploit their plight for political gain.

The pope's last event in Greece was a visit to a Catholic-run school where he listened to accounts from several students, including 12-year-old Aboud Gabro, whose family left Syria after their house in Aleppo took a direct hit by a bomb in 2014.

He urged also the children to become social themselves instead of slaves of social media and "prisoners of the cell phones in their hands".

During a five-day visit to Cyprus and Greece, Francis returned to Lesbos, the Greek island on the forefront of Europe's migration crisis when it began in 2015, lamenting that "little has changed" since his previous visit there.

Speaking from the island's migrant camp, Francis called the Mediterranean, where thousands have drowned trying to make the crossing to Europe, "a grim cemetery without tombstones".

Greece, and more recently Cyprus, are the main gateways into the European Union for people trying to flee war and poverty in the Middle East and beyond.

Nearly a million people, mostly Syrians, crossed to Greece from Turkey in 2015, before travelling to wealthier northern European countries, where their arrival has fuelled support for populists and far-right groups.

At an emotional meeting with migrants in Cyprus, Francis compared the conditions in which migrants are held in Libya and elsewhere to those in Nazi and Soviet camps.

The pontiff arranged to have 50 migrants living in Cyprus relocated to Rome.

(Reporting by Karolina Tagaris and Philip Pullella; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights
   

Next In World

Rival Honduran lawmakers back different congressional heads in dispute with next president
Ukraine receives second batch of U.S. weapons in Russian stand-off
Venezuelan opposition's Guaido calls for February protest
Ukrainian politician mocks 'stupid' UK claims he could lead Kremlin puppet government
Yemenis struggle without internet for third day after air strikes
Explainer-Why is Burkina Faso's army mutinying?
Islamic State claims responsibility for attack in Herat, Afghanistan
Queen Elizabeth flies to Sandringham after COVID disrupted Christmas plan
Lebanon must not be platform for hostility, Kuwaiti FM says
Guatemala asks other countries to stay out of attorney general election

Others Also Read


Vouchers