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POPE Francis criticised “indifference” to refugees yesterday as two Syrians were found dead in a smugglers’ boat in Greece.
In his Palm Sunday homily at the Vatican, the Argentinian pontiff compared the plight of more than a million refugees who have risked death to reach Europe in the last year to the persecution of Jesus.
Jesus was “denied every justice,” said the Pope. “Jesus also suffered on his own skin indifference, because no one wanted to take on the responsibility for his destiny.
“And I am thinking of so many people, so many on the margins, so many refugees” for whom “many don’t want to assume responsibility,” he added in a clear reference to Europe’s refugee debate.
On the Greek island of Lesbos, two Syrian men were found dead on a dangerously overcrowded people-trafficking boat that had just crossed the 10-mile Strait of Mitilinis from Turkey.
Medical personnel performed CPR on the two men but couldn’t revive them.
Meanwhile, the deal between Brussels and Ankara to deport refugees arriving in the European Union to Turkey came into effect with little sign of enforcement.
Greek authorities said they were unsure if any new arrivals would be processed and turned back before Monday.
Greece was expecting 2,300 European experts, including immigration officers and translators, to help implement the deal, but none had arrived by yesterday.
Instead, 875 new refugees landed on four of Greece’s Aegean islands close to the Turkish coast.
The Turkish Dogan news agency reported yesterday that 320 refugees hoping to reach Greece had been intercepted in the coastal town of Dikili, the main departure point for Lesbos.
The agreement, which has been condemned as contrary to international law by the United Nations refugee agency, will see refugees who do not qualify for asylum sent to Turkey in return for an equal number of refugees approved by Ankara.
Already home to some 2.7 million refugees from the Syrian war and other conflicts, Turkey is wracked by terrorism and army crackdowns on its Kurdish population and no safe haven itself.
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