2013-07-08 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met a group of migrants, many from North Africa, on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa Monday. Lampedusa is closer to North Africa than mainland Italy, and has received tens of thousands of people, from Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Egypt and other nations as they seek a better future in Europe.
After placing a floral wreath at sea in memory of the some 20,000 who have lost their lives on the treacherous journey, Pope Francis listened to a representative of those on the island who survived.
Pope Francis desired the half day visit to Lampedusa to express his solidarity with the island’s small local community and the some 500 migrants there today.
The following is a Vatican Radio translation of the exchange between the Pope and migrants:
Pope Francis: I thank you for this welcome, all of us together today will pray for each other and also for those who are not here with us today. Thank you.
Migrant representative speaking Arabic with simultaneous translation into Italian:
First of all, we thank the Holy Father for his visit. We would like him to resolve our problem. We fled our country for two reasons: political and economic. To arrive here, in this tranquil place, we overcame many obstacles; we were kidnapped by many traffickers. To arrive here, also again in Libya, we have suffered greatly. We would like the Holy Father’s help and we, after a long period of suffering, we have arrived here; we would like other countries to help us. Thank you for your collaboration and we thank God. We here are forced to remain in Italy because Italy has many refugees. We have stayed, we have digital fingerprints and for this we are forced to stay; we are very many migrants and we would like other European countries to help us.