Pope Francis returns to Lesbos: <br>‘I am here to see your faces, I am here to look into your eyes’.

Pope Francis returns to Lesbos:
‘I am here to see your faces, I am here to look into your eyes’.

“Addressing the root causes, not the people”

While the EU shows its shame and cowardice on crucial issues for dignity (human rights, reception of migrants, rule of law) Pope Francis returned after five years to the Mitile reception and identification centre where “There are still cages for unaccompanied minors. Small containers hypocritically coloured, but surmounted by rusty nets. Armed guards patrol like a Guantanamo in the Aegean. The flag with the stars of the European Union outside the camp is not a mockery. But it is the true face, selfish and ruthless, of today’s Europe” (Source: santegidio.org).

Photo: ilfattoquotidiano.it

“I am here to see your faces, I am here to look into your eyes. Eyes full of fear and expectation, eyes that have seen violence and poverty, eyes furrowed by too many tears.” These are the first words that Pope Francis said on his way to meet them, after crossing the rows of grey containers of this new refugee camp five miles off the Turkish coast, where two thousand people are currently staying.  It is the latest hotspot to be set up on the island of Sappho, replacing the Mória Refugee Camp, Europe’s largest refugee camp until September 2020, when it was destroyed by fire (Source: avvenire.it).

According to Nello Scavo (journalist of Avvenire, 5/12) “almost all of them” would have the right to obtain protection. Of the approximately 2,200 present, 72% are of Afghan origin, and a third are minors. The camp that the Pope visited has a characteristic feature: its containers are reminiscent of a holiday village, the “little houses” are right in front of the sea, almost on the beach.  The European manager of Caritas Italiana told Vatican Radio that this exposes them to all winds and bad weather from the sea. It is also far from any form of life, isolated. Like all the refugee camps along the Balkan route. Here, people who are detained for a long time without any reason, since they would have every reason to obtain refugee status, have nothing to do. They cannot interact or act in any way. They cannot work, they cannot be or be useful. They can only wait.

Photo: Avvenire.it


God of mercy,
we pray to you for all the men, women and children who have died after leaving their homeland in search of a better life.
Although many of their graves have no names, by you each one is known, loved and cherished.
May they never be forgotten by us, but may we honour their sacrifice with deeds rather than words.
We entrust to Thee all those who have made this journey, enduring fear, uncertainty and humiliation, in order to reach a place of safety and hope.
As you did not abandon your Son when he was led to a place of safety by Mary and Joseph, so now be close to these sons and daughters of yours through our tenderness and protection.
Grant that, by caring for them, we may foster a world where no one is forced to leave his or her home and where all may live in freedom, dignity and peace.
God of mercy and Father of all, awaken us from the sleep
God of mercy and Father of all, awaken us from the sleep of indifference, open our eyes to their suffering, and deliver us from insensitivity, the fruit of worldly affluence and self-absorption.
Inspire all of us, nations, communities and individuals, to recognise that those who reach our shores are our brothers and sisters.
Help us to share with them the blessings we have received from your hands and recognise that together, as one human family, we are all migrants, travellers of hope to you, who are our true home, where every tear will be wiped away, where we will be in peace, safe in your embrace.

(in Lesbos in 2016).