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Italian Council for Refugees on Lampedusa visit by Pope Francis

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis announced journey to the Italian island of Lampedusa has been praised by the Italian Council for Refugees (CIR).

“I think it is an extremely important gesture,” said Christopher Hein, the Director of the CIR.

The island, due to its proximity to Tunisia, is a primary destination of migrants leaving Africa. The processing facility on the island was built to hold on a few hundred people, and was swamped after the Arab Spring and resulting revolutions sent refugees streaming from North Africa.

“I believe from the Church, and from the Vatican, this is a sign of a particular interest to the plight of these people,” Hein told Vatican Radio.

Pope Francis will visit Lampedusa on July 8th, celebrating Mass in the morning. He will also take time to remember the thousands of people who died trying to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.

“More than 18,500 people from 1998 until these days, have died on the desperate hope to reach the territories of the European Union,” Hein said.

Listen to the full interview by Charles Collins with Christopher Hein: RealAudioMP3


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