Pope Francis slams Europe’s treatment of migrants

The Pope slammed the way Europe is treating migrants.

Speaking on the Greek island of Lesbos, where he met dozens of migrants, Pope Francis said they were being used for political propaganda.

He urged focus on the causes of migration, such as “forgotten wars”, instead of punishing those who feel their effects.

And he criticised the building of walls to keep people out.

“In Europe there are those who persist in treating the problem as a matter that does not concern them – this is tragic,” he said.

“History teaches us that narrow self-interest and nationalism lead to disastrous consequences.”

While the coronavirus pandemic had shown that major challenges had to be confronted together and there were some signs of this happening on climate change, there was little sign of such an approach to migration, he said.

“It is easy to influence public opinion by instilling fear of the other,” Pope Francis said.

“The remote causes should be attacked, not the poor people who pay the consequences and are even used for political propaganda.”

The Pope cited war, economic agreements “where the people have to pay” and the flow of weapons as factors leading people to seek a better life elsewhere.

The pontiff was speaking at a temporary camp housing about 2,000 asylum-seekers, which replaced the overcrowded Moria camp that was destroyed in fires last year.

Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, who was accompanying Francis, said the migration issue was the responsibility of all Europe, not just Greece.

More than 8,000 people have crossed into Greece by land and sea this year, down from about 15,000 last year and about 75,000 the previous year, according to EU figures.