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Pope in Marseille: Non secular teams decide to serving to migrants

Migrants “arrive and do not communicate French. [They] haven’t any pals, no cash, no relationships… It’s important to assist them combine,” one Christain volunteer informed Euronews.

“Migration must be a free alternative”.


That is set to be Pope Francis’ message for the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees on Sunday 24 September. 

It comes at a delicate time, with greater than 12,000 migrants arriving in a single week on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Migration can be a outstanding theme of the Pope’s go to to Marseille, France’s second-biggest metropolis.

The Pontiff will go to town on Saturday 23 September for the “Rencontres Méditerranéennes“, an occasion organised by the Italian Bishops’ Convention that goals to deliver collectively some 70 bishops from all sides of the Mediterranean.

Two years in the past, Pope Francis described the Mediterranean Sea as “Europe’s largest graveyard”, sending a transparent message to the European Union that extra must be performed to avoid wasting lives within the Mediterranean.

The French Inside Minister, Gérald Darmanin, is definitely not on the identical wavelength. This week he mentioned France “is not going to welcome migrants who come from Lampedusa.”

Marseille priest aids unaccompanied minors

In Marseille, parishes resembling Saint-Ferréol, positioned on a busy nook of the southern metropolis’s Vieux-Port, have dedicated to welcoming migrants.

Its rector was impressed to take motion when younger migrants occupied his sanctuary. 

The priest was getting ready for mass on 21 November 2017 when a gaggle of younger folks gathered within the church. 

“They wished to spend the evening right here”, Steves Babooram tells Euronews. “We got here to an settlement they usually stayed. However they did not need to go away afterwards.” 

The group wished to make themselves heard as a result of their state of affairs was not proper, the priest defined.


The younger males have been ready to be granted “unaccompanied minor” (UM) standing, he continued. 

With this recognition, they might be entitled to care from the French state, no matter their nationality or social state of affairs. They are going to be accommodated, skilled and helped into jobs which can be in demand. 

‘Filling within the gaps’

This expertise led him to discovered Groupe Raphaël, an affiliation of volunteers serving to migrants. 

“We offer academic help, however above all, it is human help,” Christian de Bénazé, coordinator of the Groupe Raphaël, informed Euronews. 

“We do not substitute for the state’s providers, we won’t home them, however we are able to fill within the gaps.”


The affiliation takes care of round fifty minors, offering them with leisure and cultural actions in addition to helping their integration.

Most are aged between 16 and 17 and Muslim, which makes no distinction to the Christian volunteers.

“The query is: how can we assist them?” says Bénazé. 

“They arrive and do not communicate French. [They] haven’t any pals, no cash, no relationships… It’s important to assist them combine.”

‘Restoring confidence and pleasure’

One other affiliation, Actavista, has the identical conviction. It employs folks in precarious conditions to work on restoration initiatives.


From the Fort d’Entrecasteaux in Marseille to the Abbaye de Montmajour and even the Château de Chambord, Actavista helps restore a number of listed monuments, supporting 500 folks into employment yearly. 

Greater than a 3rd of the staff are migrants.

“The tougher their state of affairs, the extra vital it’s to offer them an excellent job. Restoring historic buildings helps them to rebuild their lives,” Pâquerette Demotes, Actavista’s managing director, informed Euronews. 

“It is a springboard to employment, however we do not need to hold them for lengthy. Our position is to… assist them get again into the behavior of working.”

Educated in heritage monuments’ restoration, folks can “keep from 9 to 10 months and go away as quickly as they discover a job”, says Demotes. 

“Many go on to work within the development sector, whereas others discover completely different paths. The primary goal is to assist them discover a job.”

‘The Mediterranean is a hyperlink’

The bishops assembly in Marseille share the identical sentiment: It is important to welcome immigrants. 

Cardinal Cristobal Lopez, archbishop of Rabat in Morocco, believes “the Mediterranean is a hyperlink” – not a border.

“The position of the Church is just not solely to assist migrants but additionally to reform mentalities,” explains Rafic Nahra, archbishop of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. 

“Tradition can solely enrich folks, however we have now to take care of the locals who’re afraid of dropping their id and alter folks’s attitudes.”

“Europe can not pursue a purely repressive coverage,” added Lopez. “We will not shut all the pieces off. We’d like a means in, in any other case issues will explode.”

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