Despite the amazement at the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the images of destruction and the waves of refugees absorbed by Poland and the other border countries, Pope Francis has not forgotten them. On Sunday April 3, on the second day of his visit to Malta, the head of the Catholic Church once again made a stopover with refugees from the Mediterranean, those who, coming from its southern and eastern borders, are trying at all costs costs to push the door of the European Union. “Since I went [sur l’île italienne de] Lampedusa [en juillet 2013, pour son premier déplacement après son élection], I have never forgotten you”, he told them. His tireless advocacy in favor of a dignified welcome for migrants in Europe has taken the form, over the years, of two visits to camps on the Greek island of Lesbos, as well as numerous meetings, almost at each of his displacements.
With slowed and severely limping steps, very visibly suffering from acute pain in his knee and a throbbing hip which forbid him the stairs and oblige him to sit in his popemobile, François went to the Laboratory of Peace John XXIII, a center located in Hal Far, on the southern shore of the island of Malta. The migrants who are welcomed and accompanied there come mostly from Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan. Their route most often passed through Libya. “No one would want to leave their story and their loved ones behind, affirmed by welcoming the Franciscan Dionisio Mintoff, founder of the place in the 1970s, but war, hunger and the impossibility of building their future and that of their children pushes many men and women to flee their country and seek a safe place. »
Outside the Laboratory of Peace, fifty Ukrainians were waiting for the pontiff, chanting: “Close the Ukrainian sky”, “Protect our children”. Inside, some two hundred people, mostly from Africa, wisely seated under a clear sky, welcomed him and some were able to talk about their journeys. “Your stories, Francois told them, recall those of many people who, in recent days, have been forced to flee Ukraine because of an unjust and savage war. But also that of many other men and women who have been forced to leave their homes and their land, in Asia, Africa and America, in search of a safe place. I am thinking of the Rohingyas. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of them at this time. »
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