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18 February 2016

Pope Francis prays in Ciudad Juarez on the Mexican side of the border with the United States. Photo: Alessandro Di Meo/EPA

Pope Francis Ends his Mexico Tour Praying for Migrants at the U.S. Border

Mexico  Overlooking the flood lights and barbed wire that line the U.S. border, Pope Francis on Wednesday quietly prayed for the migrants who have died during their journeys to America. He later said a “humanitarian crisis” was prompting people worldwide to leave for other lands, write Joshua Partlow and Gabriela Martinez for the Washington Post.

In what amounted to a symbolic rebuke of America’s presidential campaign rhetoric on immigration — which has included calls for mass deportations of illegal workers and a huge border wall — the pope prayed atop a platform that overlooked the Rio Grande. The pontiff waved and made the sign of the cross to a crowd cheering across the river in El Paso, Texas.

The pope laid flowers at the foot of a giant cross that had been erected at the top of the ramp for the brief afternoon ceremony. Nearby, thousands who had come to the nearby Juarez fairgrounds for a Mass on the last day of the pope’s trip to Mexico observed a moment of silence.

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Tampere’s clowns face off against anti-immigrant vigilantes. Photo: Lodiersofodin

A Three-Ring Circus in Finland: Soldiers, ‘Loldiers’ and Asylum Seekers

Finland — A surreal political circus is wheeling its way through the frosty streets of Finland’s third-largest city of Tampere, writes Richard Martyn-Hemphill for The New York Times.

In one ring is the Soldiers of Odin, a far-right, leather-clad vigilante patrol named for a Norse deity, which has taken upon itself the task of protecting Tampere from the 1,200 or so people seeking asylum here from Syria, Iraq and other places.

In another is a troupe of clowns who skip through the streets carrying lollipops, feather dusters and toilet brushes, mocking and sometimes confronting anti-immigrant groups, including the “soldiers.” The clowns call themselves the Loldiers of Odin and have emerged on the scene in the past few weeks as champions of multiculturalism.

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Migration in the News

  • Telesur TV reported that IOM, UNFPA and the Honduran government have launched a public awareness campaign under the slogan: “I am a woman and living without violence is my right.”
  • El Mundo reported that many refugees are deciding to return home after finding that Europe does not meet their expectations.
  • BBC reported on the “impossible to handle” situation of migrants and refugees in Turkey – the country that the European Union believes is central to solving the migration crisis.
  • Press TV reported claims by a refugee support group that police in the Belgian port city of Zeebrugge have arrested refugees and marked them with serial numbers using indelible ink.
  • Euronews reported that Greece has announced the opening of four new migrant reception centres on islands near Turkey.
  • AFP reported that a four-year-old Afghan boy died on a boat crossing the Aegean, according to the Greek coastguard.
  • IFRC shared the story of El Hadji Diop, a Senegalese migrant who spent nine days in an overcrowded boat trying to get from Senegal to Spain. He got as far as the Canary Islands and was sent back, but hopes to try again.
  • Prensa Latina reported that 186 stranded Cuban migrants yesterday (17/2) flew from Costa Rica to El Salvador on route to the United States.

Trending on the Internet

  • The Guardian reported that Lebanon’s first domestic workers union faces a problem mobilizing the country’s 250,000 migrant domestic workers because most are confined to their employers’ homes.
  • Huffington Post featured the work of Benjamin Dix, who produces comic books on social issues. His latest tells the story of a young Eritrean woman who escaped to the UK after being jailed and forced to do military service.

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