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Rediff.com  » News » 'You are not alone': Pope brings 3 refugee families from Greece to Rome

'You are not alone': Pope brings 3 refugee families from Greece to Rome

Last updated on: April 16, 2016 22:42 IST

Pope Francis transformed the lives of a dozen Syrian refugees on Saturday when he plucked three families from a crowded camp on the Greek island of Lesbos and took them back to Rome.

IMAGE: Pope Francis welcomes a group of Syrian refugees after landing at Ciampino airport in Rome following a visit at the Moria refugee camp in the Greek island of Lesbos. Photograph: Filippo Monteforte/Pool/Reuters

Six adults and six children  passed in hours from being inmates of a “closed” facility in Greece to new arrivals in continental Europe, where they will receive all the help they can be given.

Pope Francis said: “Today I renew my heartfelt plea for responsibility and solidarity in the face of this tragic situation.”

IMAGE: Six adults and six children were the lucky ones who were taken from Greece. Photograph: Filippo Monteforte/Pool/Reuters

The Vatican will take responsibility for supporting the families. But the Catholic Sant’Egidio community will take care of getting them settled initially.

The move came during the Pope’s emotional visit to Lesbos where he implored Europe to respond to the migrant crisis on its shores “in a way that is worthy of our common humanity”.

IMAGE: Pope Francis brought three Syrian refugee families back to Rome with him today following his trip to the Greek island of Lesbos. Photograph: Filippo Monteforte/Pool/Reuters

The Greek island just a few miles from the Turkish coast has seen hundreds of thousands of desperate people land on its shores in the last year, fleeing war and poverty at home.

When he arrived in Lesbos, Pope Francis was driven to Moria camp where he was greeted at the camp by a large group of children, some of whom arrived in Greece without their parents.

Addressing the refugees, he said: “You are not alone. Do not lose hope.”

IMAGE: Pope Francis meets migrants at the Moria detention centre in Mytilene, Lesbos, Greece. Photograph: Andrea Bonetti/Greek Prime Minister's Office via Getty Images

Many refugees fell to their knees and wept as Francis approached them. Others chanted ‘Freedom! Freedom!’ as he passed by.

“Refugees are not numbers, they are people who have faces, names stories and need to be treated as such,” Francis tweeted.

IMAGE: Pope Francis kissed a refugee baby after his arrival at the Moria camp on Lesbos along with Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Ieronimos II.  Photograph: Andrea Bonetti/Greek Prime Minister's Office via Getty Images

He urged the European Union to change its policy towards the migrants. He said: “We hope that the world will heed these scenes of tragic and indeed desperate need, and respond in a way worthy of our common humanity.”

IMAGE: Pope Francis greets migrants and refugees at the Moria refugee camp near the port of Mytilene, on the Greek island of Lesbos.  Photograph: Filippo Monteforte/Pool/Reuters
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