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  Pope Francis blasts West’s response to refugees

Pope Francis blasts West’s response to refugees

AFP
Published : Apr 20, 2016, 6:33 am IST
Updated : Apr 20, 2016, 6:33 am IST

Greece lets migrants leave camps

Pope Francis poses for media during his meeting with President of the Central African Republic Faustin Archange Touadéra. -AP
 Pope Francis poses for media during his meeting with President of the Central African Republic Faustin Archange Touadéra. -AP

Greece lets migrants leave camps

Pope Francis on Tuesday blasted the indifference of Western society to the plight of refugees in another powerful intervention in the migrant crisis engulfing Europe.

 

“Too many times we have not welcomed you,” the pontiff said in a video message directly addressed to refugees, three days after he brought three Syrian asylum-seeking families from the Greek islanad Lesbos to the Vatican.

“Forgive us the closure and indifference of our societies which fear the changes to our way of life and our way of thinking that your presence requires.”

“Treated like a burden, a cost, in reality you are a gift. You bear witness to how our kind and merciful God is able to transform the evil and the injustice afflicting you into something that is good for everyone.”

The video message was recorded to mark the 35th anniversary of the Astalli Centre, the Italian headquarters of the Jesuit Refugee Service. The service is an NGO established by the religious order the Pope belongs to.

 

Meanwhile, authorities on the Greek islands began allowing migrants out of the detention camps where they are being held while their asylum requests are processed, a migration official said on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the SOMP agency which is coordinating the Greek response to the crisis said those who had spent 25 days inside the holding centres and who had filed an asylum claim would be “allowed to leave” the camps.

He said the "the vast majority" of new arrivals had submitted an asylum claim, but it was not immediately clear how many were let out on Tuesday.

They were not permitted to leave the islands and must remain available to the authorities, he said.

 

The migration crisis had led to a sharp increase in extremist and racist attacks in Austria in 2015, the interior ministry said on Tuesday.

Registered incidents rose by 54 per cent to 1,156, compared to 750 in 2014, according to latest figures.

The number of offenders reported to the police jumped from around 560 to more than 910 for the same period.

In total, some 1,690 charges were brought over far-right attacks in 2015, ranging from bodily harm and property damage to fanning hatred against foreigners.