19:30 GMT06 August 2020
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    The tragedy of forced migration and displacement affects millions, and is fundamentally a crisis of humanity, calling for a response of solidarity, compassion, generosity and an immediate practical commitment of resources, according to the joint statement of Pope Francis, Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I and Ieronymos II of Athens.

    ATHENS (Sputnik) — Pope Francis, Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I and Ieronymos II of Athens on Saturday called for solidarity with refugees and for an end of conflict in the Middle East.

    Pope Francis and the two Eastern Orthodox leaders are visiting Greece's Moria hotspot refugee camp on Lesbos island on Saturday. The island is a gateway to Europe for many of those fleeing war and poverty in North Africa and Middle East.

    "The tragedy of forced migration and displacement affects millions, and is fundamentally a crisis of humanity, calling for a response of solidarity, compassion, generosity and an immediate practical commitment of resources… Together we solemnly plead for an end to war and violence in the Middle East, a just and lasting peace and the honourable return of those forced to abandon their homes," the three religious leaders said in a joint declaration.

    The international community must step up efforts at achieving consensus on an assistance program, the declaration said, adding that this is required to protect minorities, tackle human trafficking, eliminate unsafe routes across the Mediterranean and conduct resettlement programs.

    The declaration called on countries and religious communities to extend asylum to those in need for as long as required while conflicts across the Middle East and North Africa persist.

    Europe has been beset by a massive refugee crisis, with hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants fleeing their home countries in the Middle East and North Africa to escape violence and poverty. More than 1.8 million migrants entered the European Union in 2015, according to the EU border management agency Frontex.

    Related:

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    Greek Prime Minister Calls Pope Francis Lesbos Visit 'Historic'
    Salvation Awaits: Pope on a Mission to Save Lesbos Migrants (VIDEO)
    Watchdog Urges Pope Francis to Visit Refugee Site During Lesbos Visit
    Tags:
    migrant crisis, refugees, Ieronymos II of Athens, Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, Pope Francis, Greece
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