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Pope calls neglect of migrants ‘shipwreck’ on Lesbos visit

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Lesbos Island: Pope Francis on Sunday returned to the island of Lesbos, the migration flashpoint he first visited in 2016, calling the neglect of migrants the “shipwreck of civilisation”.

“In Europe there are those who persist in treating the problem as ag matter that does not concern them,” the pope said as he visited Lesbos’ Mavrovouni camp where nearly 2,200 asylum seekers live.

On the second day of his visit to Greece, he met a small group of mostly child asylum seekers standing behind metal barriers, with one bystander saying “love you”, prompting the pontiff to affectionately greet the infants.

The pope’s trip to Lesbos will be shorter than his last, officials said, as he will fly back to Athens on Sunday to hold a mass for some 2,500 people at the Megaron Athens Concert Hall.

On Lesbos, the pontiff will deliver an Angelus prayer in a camp tent in the presence of Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, EU vice-president Margaritis Schinas and Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi.

“He has power, he can influence people to see refugees differently,” she told pmc.

‘Terrible modern Odyssey’

Francis has long championed refugees, whom he called the “protagonists of a terrible modern Odyssey” in a speech to Greek officials and Schinas on Saturday.

He was speaking in Athens during the first papal visit in 20 years.

Ahead of the Lesbos visit, 31-year-old Cameroonian camp resident Christian Tango said he hoped the pope would “carry the voice (of refugees) to the whole world”.

As with other residents, Tango is only allowed to leave the camp once a week. But on Sunday, he will get to speak to the pope.

The Mavrovouni tent camp was hurriedly erected after the sprawling camp of Moria, Europe’s largest such site at the time, burned down last year.

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