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Pope Francis' harsh words in Lesbos: We talk about migrants but not arms trafficking


This is the state of the Kara Tepe refugee camp on the day of Pope Francis' visit.

The Pope got out of his car to walk among the streets of the camp while greeting children and stopping to speaking with many refugees.

-"I love you!"

About 3,000 people live in this camp, the majority of whom are from Afghanistan. 

-"Where are you from?"
-"Afghanistan."
-"Afghanistan?"

Some told the Pope about their situation and asked him for help, like this man.

-"Help!"

Or this woman from Iraq, whom Pope Francis told he was doing all he could to help. 

The Pope then heard the testomonies of volunteers working in the camp, and refugees such as Tango Mukalya from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He arrived in Lesbos on November 28, 2020. He is 30 years old and has three children.

-"Two of my children are with me. The other is with their mother, but they didn't have the chance to come here and I don't have any news from them."

Pope Francis' spoke sternly on the migration crisis during his second visit to Lesbos. He called for people to not only talk about the migration problem itself, but of issues such as arms trafficking which creates it. 

POPE FRANCIS
"We don't talk about the exploitation of the poor, of the forgotten and often handsomely funded wars, of economic agreements made at the cost of the people, of the hidden actions taken to traffic arms and expand their sale. Why don't we talk about this? We need to confront the remote causes, not the poor people who pay the consequences, who are used for political propoganda!"

He also harshly criticized nationalism. He said that peace is not achievable by building walls, but by learning how to integrate others into society. 

POPE FRANCIS
"Closing yourself off and nationalism—history teaches us—brings disastrous consequences. It is sad to hear proposed solutions such as the use of public funds to raise walls and barbed wire. We are in the era of walls and barbed wire."

Pope Francis asked the international community to seek solutions together, since global programs such as pandemics and migration require global responses. 

POPE FRANCIS
"The Mediterranean, which for millennia has united different peoples and distant lands, is becoming a cold cemetery without gravestones. This great basin of water, cradle of many civilizations, now looks like a mirror of death. Let us not allow the 'mare nostrum' (sea of ours) to become a desolate 'mare mortuum' (sea of death)."

The refugee camp is not the same as the one the Pope visited in 2016, which was destroyed by a fire in September 2020. Some 20,000 people used to live there in a space built to hold 3,000. 

The new facilities are less grueling, but the refugees there still live in inhumane conditions. They can barely leave the territory and have scarce access to many basic goods. Some still have only summer clothes that is not suitable for winter.

JRB

TR: JM