Pope Francis called on Sunday for a united response to help refugees while praising Greece for its generosity in handling the massive inflow.
Addressing crowds in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican, the Pope said that the “refugee drama” was always in his prayers.
“Greece and other countries on the front line are giving these people generous help, which needs the collaboration of all countries. A response in unison could be effective and distribute the load fairly,” the pontiff said.
“To do this, we need to push decisively and unreservedly in negotiations,” he added.
More than 22,000 refugees are stranded in Greece at the moment, with 2,000-3,000 arriving daily on the islands close to the Turkish coasts. The situation has intensified after Balkan countries shut their borders and Austria restricted entry for the hundreds of thousands aiming for Europe.
The closing of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia border to the north of Greece – a passageway to central Europe – has created a bottleneck effect at the neutral zone between the two neighbors.
Francis welcomed a cessation of hostilities deal in Syria, where a raging civil war has killed more than 250,000 people and forced 11 million to flee from their homes, swelling the tide of refugees.