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    Pope Francis addresses attendees in the opening ceremony to commence a plenary meeting of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, New York September 25, 2015.

    Watchdog Urges Pope Francis to Visit Refugee Site During Lesbos Visit

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    Human Rights Watch urged Pope Francis should come by the volunteer-run Lesbos Solidarity Camp (PIKPA) during his upcoming trip to the Greek island, which has become a home to a million refugees.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) Pope Francis should come by the volunteer-run Lesbos Solidarity Camp (PIKPA) during his upcoming trip to the Greek island, which has become a home to a million refugees, Human Rights Watch urged in a statement on Friday.

    "On his visit to Lesbos this Saturday, Pope Francis should visit the Lesbos Solidarity Camp (PIKPA), a volunteer-run camp that since 2012 has given shelter, care and comfort to thousands of the most vulnerable asylum seekers who have reached the Greek island of Lesbos by boat," the statement said.

    The watchdog warned that the mayor of Lesbos could soon convert PIKPA into a holiday resort.

    Many have speculated that the Pope’s visit to Lesbos will be an opportunity for the pontiff to criticize the European Union’s handling of the migrant crisis. However, media quoted Vatican spokesman Frederico Lombardi as saying the Pope’s trip was humanitarian and ecumenical.

    Human Rights Watch noted that since the beginning of the refugee crisis, PIKPA has become a sanctuary of refuge.

    "The situation is worse now, since the European Union and Turkey agreed to a deeply flawed migrant deal last month, by which everyone arriving by boat from Turkey is automatically detained," the rights group warned.

    The Pope’s visit to Lesbos comes as European countries continue to struggle with a massive migrant crisis, with millions of people from the Middle East, North Africa and beyond seeking to relocate to Europe.

    More than 1.8 million migrants entered the European Union in 2015, according to the EU border management agency Frontex.


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