Lesbos refugees wait for Pope to tell their stories – Greek City Times

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Archbishop Josif Printezis underlines importance of Pope’s upcoming trip to Lesvos, noting that the camp he will visit is not the same as on his trip 6 years ago reports Vatican news

Six years have passed since Pope Francis last visited the Greek island of Lesvos. Since then, according to Bishop Josif Printezis, a lot has changed. Addressing Francesca Sabatinelli, the Greek Archbishop notes that conditions in the migrant camp are much better now than they were. It’s actually a new camp, he says, explaining that after Pope Francis visited in 2016, it burned down and a new one was built.

The Pope visits Lesvos and meets migrants and refugees in the refugee camp on the island of Mavrovouni on Sunday, his penultimate day in Greece.

A different reality

Another difference is that “now there are a lot less refugees”, says Bishop Printezis. They were around 25,000 when the Pope visited, they are now around 2,500. This, he explained, is in part due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which means far fewer refugees are traveling. , “But also because of the agreement between the European Union and Turkey”. They are not “fired”, he explains. He also adds that the process of identification and asylum is much faster now, and people get their papers and move to mainland Greece or to the mainland.

The agreement between Turkey and the EU was concluded in March 2016, the heads of state or government of the EU and Turkey agreed to end irregular migration from Turkey to the EU and to replace it with legal channels for resettling refugees to the European Union.

The Pope’s concern

The Pope is really concerned about the situation of migrants, said Bishop Printezis. He is worried about the many lives lost, especially at sea, but he is also worried about the situations which cause migration forcing people to leave their homes and countries… of war… of poverty.

An important visit

“We look forward to the Pope’s visit,” he said. It is a wonderful opportunity for us as a “small Catholic community” to be able to meet the Pope, to visit him, or even simply to make him “think of us”. It is important that the Catholic people of Greece do not feel excluded, he continued, and that they feel part of the greatest Catholic Church in the world. Pope Francis is highly esteemed, he concluded, by our Catholics, but also by the Orthodox .. “by all”, he said. “Everyone likes him a lot for everything he says and everything he does.”

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