DO NOT LOSE HOPE

Pope Francis brought 12 refugees back to Rome after a poignant visit to Lesbos

Obsession
Borders
Obsession
Borders

It was an emotional scene on the Greek island of Lesbos this morning (April 16), as Pope Francis touched down to visit scores of anxious refugees.

“Do not lose hope,” the Pope said during his brief time at the Moria migrant camp, which houses more than 3,000 people—many of whom might soon be deported to Turkey, due to a recent agreement the country stuck with the European Union. “The greatest gift we can offer one another is love.”

Since last summer, hundreds of thousands of refugees (from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere) have passed through Lesbos from the Turkish coast on their way to other countries in Europe. But the migration flood has sparked concerns across the continent about overcrowding, and many countries are restricting or closing their borders. The new EU deal allows authorities to individually assess those crossing into Greece and send “irregular migrants” that arrive back to Turkey.

Though the number of migrants arriving in Lesbos has dropped off sharply since the EU deal, thousands are currently stuck on the island awaiting their fate.

As a gesture of welcome, the Pope invited three families—six adults and six children, all Muslim refugees from Syria—aboard his plane heading back to the Vatican in Rome. The families had been victims of wartime bombing in their home country, and had been in the camps prior to the agreement between the EU and Turkey, the Vatican said, adding that the arrangement had been negotiated with immigration authorities.

At Moria, Pope Francis—whose visit was said by the Vatican to be purely humanitarian, and not a critique of the new policy—implored world leaders to show “common humanity” for the migrant crisis.

“We have come to call the attention of the world to this grave humanitarian crisis and to plead for its resolution,” he said.

Children and parents crowded eagerly for a glimpse of the religious leader. “We risked our lives to get out and we’d rather die here,” said one Syrian Kurdish refugee. “God willing, [Pope Francis] will help us and get Europe to open its doors to us.”

Here are some pictures from the Pope’s visit.

In this photo released by Greek Prime Minister's office on Saturday, April 16, 2016, a child kisses the hand of Pope Francis, during a visit at the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece.  Pope Francis implored Europe on Saturday to respond to the migrant crisis on its shores "in a way that is worthy of our common humanity," during an emotional and provocative trip to Greece. (Andrea Bonetti/Greek Prime Minister's Office via AP)
(Andrea Bonetti/Greek Prime Minister’s Office via AP)
Pope Francis meets migrants at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos,  Saturday April 16, 2016. Pope Francis travelled Saturday to Greece for a brief but provocative visit to meet with refugees at a detention center as the European Union implements a controversial plan to deport them back to Turkey. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Pope Francis, center, flanked by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, left, and Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos II, head of the Church of Greece, lay wreaths of flowers on the Greek island of Lesbos, Saturday April 16, 2016. Pope Francis travelled Saturday to Greece for a brief but provocative visit to meet with refugees at a detention center as the European Union implements a controversial plan to deport them back to Turkey. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

 

Migrants wait for Pope Francis at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos,  Saturday April 16, 2016. Pope Francis travelled Saturday to Greece for a brief but provocative visit to meet with refugees at a detention center as the European Union implements a controversial plan to deport them back to Turkey. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
In this photo released by Greek Prime Minister's office on Saturday, April 16, 2016, Pope Francis greets migrants and refugees during a visit at the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece. Pope Francis implored Europe on Saturday to respond to the migrant crisis on its shores "in a way that is worthy of our common humanity," during an emotional and provocative trip to Greece.  (Andrea Bonetti/Greek Prime Minister's Office via AP)
(Andrea Bonetti/Greek Prime Minister’s Office via AP)
Pope Francis meets refugees at the Moria refugee camp, on the Greek island of Lesbos, Saturday, April 16, 2016. Pope Francis travelled Saturday to Greece for a brief but provocative visit to meet with refugees at a detention center as the European Union implements a controversial plan to deport them back to Turkey. (Filippo Monteforte/Pool Photo via AP)
(Filippo Monteforte/Pool Photo via AP)
Pope Francis greets migrants and refugees at the Moria refugee camp near the port of Mytilene, on the Greek island of Lesbos, April 16, 2016. REUTERS/Filippo Monteforte/Pool - RTX2A7CE
(Reuters/Filippo Monteforte)
Pope Francis greets migrants and refugees at Moria refugee camp near the port of Mytilene, on the Greek island of Lesbos, April 16, 2016. REUTERS/Filippo Monteforte/Pool - RTX2A7CO
(Reuters/Filippo Monteforte)
home our picks popular latest obsessions search