Pope Francis on Wednesday condemned the “hellish” migrant detention camps in Libya on the seventh anniversary of his trip to Lampedusa, where many of those fleeing the country for Europe by sea land.
“The war is indeed horrible, we know that, but you cannot imagine the hell that people are living there, in that detention camp. And those people came only with hope of crossing the sea,” he said during a mass at his residence at the Vatican.
In July 2013, the newly elected Pope Francis chose the tiny Mediterranean island for his first trip outside of Rome, where he denounced the “globalisation of indifference” towards migrants.
“I remember that day, seven years ago, in the very south of Europe, on that island…,” he said.
“A number of people told me their stories and all that they had gone through to get there.
“There were interpreters present. One person was telling me about terrible things in his language, and the interpreter seemed to translate well, but this person spoke so long and the translation was brief,” he said.
Francis later found out the translator had “given me the ‘distilled’ version.
“This is what is happening today with Libya: they are giving us a ‘distilled version’,” he said.
Francis regularly expresses solidarity with migrants who cross the Mediterranean and mourns those who lose their lives in the attempt.
He has repeatedly slammed the refusal of richer nations to welcome the refugees.