After the Pope’s visit to Cyprus, a first group of migrants received at the Vatican

According to a Vatican source, a first group of ten migrants from Cyprus arrived Thursday, December 16 in Rome to be taken care of in Italy by a Catholic community after Pope Francis’ visit to the Mediterranean island in early December. This transfer is coordinated by the Sant’Egidio community, which regularly organizes this kind of operation. The migrants are then to be received at the Vatican on Friday in a private audience.

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The Cypriot authorities said on Thursday that ” 12 of the 50 asylum seekers chosen during Pope Francis’ visit “Were gone” to be welcomed in the Vatican ».

” A nightmare “

Of Somali nationality, Hinda Warsame, 25, and her sisters Naïma and Fadoumo, 22 and 19 respectively, were ready for departure on Wednesday. The three sisters grew up in Saudi Arabia before being deported to Somalia – a country plagued by significant political instability. It was ” a nightmare », Recalls Hinda. Strongly encouraged to marry against her will for ” protect “Her sisters and to undergo excision, she refused, believing that if she submitted to these practices, her relatives would impose” the same to (his) sisters ».

→ ANALYSIS. In Somalia, the political crisis worsens

Using student visas, the three sisters fled to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), an entity only recognized by Ankara, which occupies the northern third of Cyprus. The island has been divided since 1974 following the Turkish invasion – in reaction to a coup led by the colonels’ regime in Athens. The Warsame sisters then smuggled across the Green Line dividing the island and entered the Republic of Cyprus, a member country of the European Union, which has the highest rate of asylum seekers per capita according to European statistics.

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“No future”

When she learned that she had been chosen to settle in Italy, Hinda did ” not slept for a week », She assures. ” I am a Muslim but I really admire that the Pope and the Christian Church have decided to help us. »

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Among those preparing to leave for Italy is also Issa Chamma, 37, who fled Syria with his family for neighboring Lebanon in 2017. But there was ” no future for my children there », He regrets. As he sets sail for Cyprus, the Cypriot authorities intercept his boat and separate him from his three sons, aged 12, 9 and 2.

Like dozens of other refugees on the boat, her children are sent back to Lebanon while Issa Chamma, for health reasons, is transferred to a Cypriot hospital. He now hopes to bring his children to Italy. Also a Muslim, Issa Chamma thanked the Pope and Italy. ” No Arab country (…) accepted us as refugees. Western countries have opened their doors for us and our children. »

“Keep patience”

Also ready to leave, Grace Enjei, 24, and Daniel Ejube, 21, arrived in Cyprus after having to flee Cameroon, in the grip of violent community clashes. ” The situation with us is really terrible (…) we were not safe », Explains Mr. Ejube, telling that English-speaking militias wanted to enlist him and that his refusal put him in danger. Of Christian faith, the two Cameroonians say they are very happy and ” honored For having been chosen by the Pope.

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If Grace hopes to be able to resume his studies in Italy, Daniel hopes to become a footballer, although he admits that ” know nothing about Italian football “. Despite the trials encountered, Grace Enjei cannot bring herself to discourage other aspirants for a better life. On the way to exile, ” you just have to stay calm and be patient », She advises.


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