Pope Francis sent a cardinal to the refugee camp in Moria on the island of Lesvos on Thursday. The Vatican delegation was led by Cardinal Konrad Krajewski.
According to catholic news service, the May 9 visit to the “unofficial” Moira camp, where more than 1,000 people live outside a government-established camp housing nearly 5,000, was part of a mission by Pope Francis to check on the status of refugees on the island of Lesbos three years after the pope visited and took 12 refugees home to Rome with him.
The older tents, near the main road, were donated by humanitarian organizations. But as one moves farther up the hill, the dwellings become more rudimentary constructions of splintered old boards covered with a patchwork of tarps bearing the logos of the Red Cross, a variety of U.N. agencies and small aid organizations.
Zeynap, a 13-year-old girl from Afghanistan, tried to write a letter to “Mr. Pope” Francis in English, but then decided to make a video appeal instead. “Here no good,” she said. “All people sick, sad. Here no good for baby, for woman, for man.”
The young woman said she wasn’t sure what “pope” meant, but she knew he was an important person and could help. So she closed her video plea with a “thank you” and blew a kiss.
Andreas Gougoulis, the Greek government’s secretary-general for reception, said Greece currently hosts 70,000 asylum-seekers in 32 camps across the country. While the situation is calm compared to the 1.2 million arrivals Greece saw in 2015, the world’s attention has turned elsewhere, and the European Union program to relocate the asylum-seekers from Greece has ended.
The Vatican delegation distributed more than $100,000 to Caritas Hellas and to projects the Greek Catholic charity is supporting.