Pope Francis I meets refugees on Lesvos

This video says about itself:


Idomeni – 3 April 2016

1. Yazidi rights activist Nadia Murad Basee Taha in a camp for refugees and migrants, hugging a woman
2. Group of activists and camp residents
3. Taha hugging another woman
4. SOUNDBITE (Kurdish) Nadia Murad Basee Taha, Yazidi rights activist:
“My message was not to force the refugees to go to the (new) camps, but after speaking with the (Greek) Prime Minister (Alexis Tsipras) and the (Greek) government, my understanding was that the borders will not open. As you see, the situation here on the border is very difficult. The families are stressed – the children and the women. Life in the (other) camps will be better, and the message for them (the authorities) is not to force them (the migrants) to go there, but since the borders will not open, we think they should go to the camps and then wait for the process to take place.”
5. Taha talking with children
6. SOUNDBITE (Kurdish) Nadia Murad Basee Taha, Yazidi rights activist:
“I hope the world will make a wise decision. When they return people (migrants sent from Greece to Turkey), they have to make sure they will be safe – that they will go to a safe place. They have to be concerned when they are returning people.”
7. Crowd of migrants
8. Elderly women crying
9. Migrants on hunger strike with banners reading (English) “Open the border”.
10. Migrants on hunger strike, sitting on the ground
11. Migrants on hunger strike with tape covering their mouths
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Ahmad Mohammad, 23-year-old Syrian refugee:
“People, the people from Syria, today, no water, no food. Babies, women, today, tomorrow, no water, no food.”
13. Pan right of migrants on hunger strike
14. Man and child with tape covering their mouths
15. Migrants on hunger strike
16. Migrants
17. Campsite with tents and clothes drying on fence
18. Various of woman washing clothes in bowl on ground

A Yazidi rights activist who escaped from the Islamic State group [ISIS] after being captured in 2014 visited the migrant and refugee camp in Idomeni, northern Greece on Sunday.

Nadia Murad Basee Taha asked the migrants to relocate to new camps as she is convinced that European Union borders will remain shut.

Thousands remain stranded in the camp after the border to Macedonia was sealed, closing the western Balkan route towards more prosperous European countries.

While hundreds have boarded buses heading to other, more organized camps that Greek authorities have been frantically setting up across the country, many insist they will not leave.

They still hope against hope – and against all indications – that Europe will relent and reopen the borders.

Prior to Murad’s intervention, dozens of migrants announced that they are going on a hunger strike in an attempt to push Europe to re-open the borders.

Murad was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in January by the Iraqi government and has previously spoken to the United Nations about combatting IS [ISIS]- the group that most of the refugees in the camp are fleeing.

Another video which used to be on YouTube used to say about itself:

Greek minister slams conditions at Idomeni refugee camp

18 March 2016

Greek Interior Minister Panagiotis Kouroumplis compared the Idomeni refugee site on the border between Greece and Macedonia to the infamous Dachau concentration camp while on a visit.

“I wouldn’t hesitate to say that this is a modern Dachau,” Kouroumplis said during his visit to the camp where thousands of people live in improvised tents, deprived of basic necessities, on Friday.

Idomeni “is a logical result of closed borders,” he said, adding that Greece “believes in Europe without borders.” Two improvised camps, hosting over 15,000 migrants, sprung up near the Idomeni crossing in late February after the Macedonian authorities closed its borders amid a massive refugee crisis in the EU.

Kouroumplis expressed regret over “the awakening of a kind of nationalism against the persecuted people” in Europe. He acknowledged that accepting 1.5 million migrants in no easy task, but said that the people stuck at Idomeni “didn’t leave their countries by choice, but were forced to flee by wars, in which Europe also participated.”

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Tears and drawings as pope meets refugees on Lesvos

Today, 10:07

Edited today, 11:57

Hundreds of selected migrants could greet Pope Francis this morning. He had traveled to Lesvos to see with his own eyes the consequences of the refugee crisis.

Some migrants were in tears when Francis passed. Others called out their countries of origin: Afghanistan, Syria. The pope took drawings received from children and praised a girl for her work. His entourage received the drawing and were told not to fold it because he wanted to have it on his desk.

Dozens of migrants who were not invited tried to to get a glimpse of the visit from behind the fences. This afternoon there will be a lunch with eight migrants who will tell their stories. Then they will lay a wreath into the sea in memory of migrants who have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea in their attempts to reach Lesvos.

Talking to Tsipras

Francis was accompanied by the leader of the Orthodox Church and the archbishop of Athens. Together they will discuss the situation with the Greek Prime Minister Tsipras. Tsipras said upon receiving the Pope that it is a historic visit, and that he is proud to offer the migrants shelter. “Especially at a time when some of our partners, even dropping the name of a Christian Europe, build walls and fences to prevent defenseless people from finding a better life.”

Greece currently offers more than 50,000 refugees shelter. Most arrive on Lesvos, on boats from Turkey. For two weeks now the people who are coming are returned to Turkey as part of the agreement that the EU concluded with Turkey.

Humanitarian, not political

The Vatican stressed that the visit is of a humanitarian and religious nature and not a criticism of the EU agreement. But at the same time the cardinal who on behalf of the Vatican deals with migration indeed criticized the agreement. According to him, the agreement deals with migrants as goods that can be traded back and forth.

According to Greek media Francis will take ten refugees back with him, eight Syrians and two Afghans. The details thereof are not yet known. Especially the two Afghans are symbolic, because migrants from Afghanistan are no longer automatically recognized as refugees.

7 thoughts on “Pope Francis I meets refugees on Lesvos

  1. Friday, 15 April 2016

    UK turning a blind eye to refugees

    THE UK is turning a blind eye to suffering on its doorstep by failing to protect vulnerable refugees, who have been displaced by conflict, violence, persecution and poverty, a group of 13 aid and refugee agencies said yesterday.

    The lack of adequate response from the UK and European governments to the more than a million refugees who arrived in Europe in 2015 ‘has compounded the suffering and created a humanitarian crisis on Britain’s doorstep’. Next week, it will be a year since up to 800 people drowned trying to reach Lampedusa, a tragedy that spurred the EU into holding its first summit on the refugee crisis.

    But successive summits have done little to improve the situation – the deal struck between the EU and Turkey to deport refugees from Greece ‘is the latest callous attempt to shut the door on desperate people who have already fled their homes and risked a treacherous sea crossing’.

    Oxfam, the British Refugee Council, the International Rescue Committee (IRC-UK) and ten other agencies say it’s not enough for the UK government to provide aid for refugees in countries like Lebanon and Jordan. The UK has an obligation to offer a safe haven to its fair share of refugees and do all it can to ensure protection for people on the move, whatever their legal status,’ Maya Mailer, Oxfam’s Head of Humanitarian Policy said.

    ‘The UK is trying to pretend that this is someone else’s problem, and that refugees and migrants could and should be dealt with elsewhere. But people who are desperate will take huge risks to reach safety. The UK needs to accept its moral responsibility to offer a safe haven to the world”s poorest and most vulnerable – men, women and children who have been made homeless by war, violence and disasters.’

    In the report A Safe Haven? the agencies express concerns that reception centres in Greece and Italy are beginning to resemble detention centres run by military personnel. This lacks humanity and stigmatises those seeking help as if they are a security threat.

    The report lays out the steps the UK needs to take to respond to the global displacement crisis, including:
    • expand the safe and legal routes to reach protection in the UK
    • improve the humanitarian response in Europe, including humane reception conditions at borders and in transit countries
    • ensure access to a fair, effective and humane asylum system
    • improve conditions in countries hosting large numbers of displaced people and
    • tackle the causes behind forced displacement.

    British Refugee Council Chief Executive Maurice Wren said: ‘While European leaders demonstrate a collective failure of political leadership and moral courage, people who have escaped war and tyranny are met with barbed wire and tear gas, mums are forced to bathe their infants in dirty puddles, and yet more refugee children drown on Europe’s shores.’

    Melanie Ward, Associate Director of Policy and Advocacy for IRC-UK said: ‘There is an urgent need for the UK to live up to its global responsibility by expanding pathways to protection for refugees seeking sanctuary. Without alternatives, thousands are left with no other option but to turn to smugglers and embark on dangerous journeys.’



  2. Monday 18th April 2016

    posted by Morning Star in Britain

    Delegates slam hateful media

    REFUGEE CRISIS: Journalists vowed at the weekend not to become “foot soldiers for hate” by delivering balanced coverage of Europe’s refugee crisis.

    In a debate on government policy, delegates unanimously backed a motion accusing the government of “doing its utmost to dehumanise the tens of thousands of refugees fleeing war and desperate poverty in the Middle East and North Africa” and of “helping create a humanitarian crisis involving over a quarter of a million people.”

    The conference backed a motion recognising the role of parts of the British media in “stoking up hatred” against immigrants and said: “The need for accurate, truthful reporting has never been greater and never more difficult.”



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