Accompanied by Orthodox Patriarchs Bartholomew and Hieronymus, Pope Francis has arrived to Moria Refugee Camp, which hosts about 2,500 asylum seekers. They are mostly from Syria, but some of them come also from other Middle Eastern countries, such as Afghanistan and Iraq. “We are going to meet the worst humanitarian disaster since World War II,” the Pontiff told the reporters who accompanied him on the flight from Fiumicino to Lesbos.
“This journey is different from all the others, it is a journey marked by sadness,” he added. “On other journeys we travel to meet people, there is joy – he added -.This journey is sad. We are travelling to see so many people who are suffering and do not know where to go. I am not saying this to bring anyone down, but to make you convey, through your work, the mood” with which I am approaching this visit.
Upon his arrival to Mytilene, Pope Francis was welcomed by Greek Prime Minister Alexi Tsipras, whom he met for a private conversation. “I thank His Excellency for his hospitality. First of all I came here to thank the Greek people for its generosity – the Pope said to the Greek Prime Minister -. Greece is the cradle of civilization and it shows that it is still an example of humanity, which bravely shows its generosity.”
During the meeting between Pope Francis and Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras, “the main conversation topic was the refugee and migrant crisis, especially the situation on the island of Lesbos.” It was reported by the director of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi. “They pointed out that the refugee crisis is a European and international problem that requires a comprehensive response, in respect of the European and international laws,” explains the Vatican spokesman. The Pope “has appreciated the human attitude of the Greek people, which showed solidarity and commitment to universal values despite its difficult economic situation.” Besides, they stressed “the need to protect people from risking their lives while crossing the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas by fighting human trafficking networks, excluding dangerous routes, and by developing safe distribution procedures in Europe”.