Pope Francis issued a fresh appeal on Thursday for countries to welcome migrants as he met a group of refugees the Vatican airlifted out of a Greek detention camp.
Earlier this month, Francis’ personal charity envoy, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, went to the Moria camp in Greece’s Lesbos island, where living conditions are abysmal, and returned with 33 refugees.
“It is not by blocking their boats that you solve the problem.
“We must seriously commit to empty the detention camps in Libya, examining and implementing all possible options,” he said.
The pope called on people not to ignore “the desperate cry” of the many “that prefer facing a sea storm rather than dying slowly in Libyan detention camps, places of ignoble torture and slavery.”
During a ceremony, Francis was presented with a clear plastic cross fitted with a life-jacket that was recovered from the Mediterranean by an Italian rescue charity.
“It belonged to a migrant, who went missing at sea in July. Nobody knows, who he or she was or came from,” Francis said. “We are facing another death caused by injustice.”
The cross and the life-jacket were hung inside Vatican grounds, on a wall by the entrance to the Apostolic Palace from the Cortile del Belvedere courtyard.
The refugees the pope met on Thursday are being looked after by the Community of Sant’Egidio, a Catholic charity which did the same for others Moria inmates the Vatican took in three years ago.
Francis, the Argentine-born son of Italian immigrants, often speaks up for migrants’ rights.
In 2017, he controversially compared the facilities in Lesbos to a “concentration camp”.