A group of 46 migrants and asylum seekers from the refugee camp on the island of Lesbos in Greece – where Pope Francis is due to visit for the second time on December 5 – arrived in Rome on November 30, announced Vatican News.
The resettlement of these refugees is part of the humanitarian corridors program created by the Catholic lay Sant’Egidio Community.
The resettlement of these migrants was carried out in agreement with the Greek and Italian authorities.
The announcement comes hours before the start of Pope Francis’ trip to Cyprus and Greece, December 2-6, and could precede another arrival of migrants, this time from Cyprus.
Franciscan Fr. Jerzy Kraj has been the patriarchal vicar of Cyprus within the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem since 2013. He is one of the organizers of the Pope’s visit to the island. Last week, he told I.MEDIA, that they are “working on this process” of enabling the Pope to return to Rome with refugees.
We hope so, but I don’t have precise details. Symbolically, the Pope could bring back a group of refugees to signify the opening of humanitarian corridors. This would be a reminder of the need to help migrants in a concrete way; it would be an echo of the gesture made during his previous trip to Greece.
During Pope Francis’ previous trip to Lesbos in 2016, he returned by plane to Rome with 12 Syrian migrants on board. Their process of integration was then entrusted to the Sant’Egidio community.
An integration program
The 46 migrants from Lesbos come from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Congo, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and South Sudan. They have spent “several months, some years, in refugee camps in Greece.”
Among them are three minors – including a 12-year-old Syrian boy – who will be able to go to school. The migrants will be spread over several regions in Italy and will have the opportunity to learn Italian. Once their refugee status has been obtained, they will benefit from a work integration program.