Pope Francis rescues three Syrian families from Lesbos migrant camp

160423 pope francis

The head of the Catholic church made the gesture after he visited a sprawling camp on the Aegean island of Lesbos where migrants wept at his feet, kissed his hand and begged for help.

Around 3,000 people are trapped at the Moira camp after the EU and Turkey struck a deal to halt the migrant flow last month.

Following a five-hour visit, Pope Francis welcomed a dozen refugees onto his plane.

A statement issued by the Vatican said: “The Pope has desired to make a gesture of welcome regarding refugees, accompanying on his plane to Rome three families of refugees from Syria, 12 people in all, including six children.”

The individuals were selected from lots drawn according to reports and will be looked after by Rome-based Christian community Sant’Egidio.

In a speech at the camp, Pope Francis said: “I want to tell you, you are not alone.

“As people of faith, we wish to join our voices to speak out on your behalf. Do not lose hope.”

As he walked through the island, migrants chanted “freedom, freedom” as adults fell to the pontiff’s feet on at least three occasions.

Hundreds of people have died making the crossing from Turkey to the Lesbos shores in inflatable dinghies in the past year, and the island is full of unmarked graves.

The Pope and other Orthodox leaders later threw wreaths into the sea to commemorate those who lost their lives.


Jamie Bullen

Saturday 16 April 2016




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