By Vatican News
Pope Francis, following the recitation of the Marian Prayer on Sunday recalled the massive fire that devastated the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.
He told those gathered in St Peter’s Square, that the memory of his 2016 visit there remained with him and “the appeal launched together with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Hieronymus from Athens to ensure a humane and dignified welcome to migrant women and men, to refugees, to those seeking asylum in Europe.”
“I express solidarity and closeness to all the victims of these dramatic events”, he said.
Before the fire reduced the Moria camp to ruins, it was home to around 13,000 people living in overcrowded conditions.
The camp had also been criticized for its unsanitary living conditions which has made social distancing almost impossible to implement during a global pandemic.
On Saturday, Greek police fired teargas to disperse a group of migrants protesting on the island four days this past week's fire.
Thousands of men, women and children are now without a roof over their heads, and Greek authorities are struggling to find them shelter.
Pope Francis's 2016 visit
Pope Francis visited the camp, in April 2016. While there he took the opportunity to express his closeness and solidarity to the refugees and to call for urgently needed EU asylum-seeker policy reform.
He also returned to Italy with 3 families of Syrian asylum seekers, whose reception and sustenance was taken care of by the Holy See, while the hospitality and the path of integration was provided by the Sant'Egidio Community.
Between November and December of 2019 the Papal Almoner, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, went to the island of Lesbos returning with 43 asylum seekers.