23, April 2017
Pope Francis has likened the detention camps set up by European states to hold refugees to concentration camps. “Refugee camps, many of them, are of concentration [conditions] because of the great number of people left there, inside them,” the leader of the Roman Catholic Church said during a sermon at the Basilica of Saint Bartholomew in Rome on Saturday.
He reprimanded the European states for exercising collective apathy toward the plight of the refugees by sealing the continent’s borders, and advised European leaders to uphold and defend human and refugee rights. The Pope encouraged European leaders to welcome more refugees rather than devise new means of how to stem their flow.
In March, the Pope said Europe had been founded on the basis of multiculturalism. “Europe finds new hope when she refuses to yield to fear or close herself off in false forms of security. Quite the contrary, her history has been greatly determined by encounters with other peoples and cultures; hers is, and always has been, a dynamic and multicultural identity,” the pontiff said back then in an address to the leaders of the European Union (EU) member states, who had gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1957 Treaty of Rome, which led to the formation of the bloc.
Refugees fleeing from war and persecution in the Middle East and North Africa have been heading to Europe in hopes of rebuilding their lives. Many European countries, subsumed by xenophobia or fears of terrorist infiltration, have enforced strict regulations to prevent refugee arrivals. Some countries, particularly those on the EU’s external borders, have closed their borders to refugees altogether.