Pope Francis met Monday with refugees in Bulgaria’s showcase refugee center, after he urged the migrant-skeptic government to not close its eyes to their suffering. Refugee children from Iraq, Pakistan and elsewhere sang for Francis at the Vrazhdebna center, located in a school refurbished with EU funds on the outskirts of the Bulgarian capital, Sofia.
Francis thanked the refugees for their joy and hope. “Today, the world of migrants and refugees is a kind of cross, the cross of humanity,” Francis said. He is on the second-day of a three-day visit to the Balkans.
Bulgaria’s center-right government, which includes three nationalist, anti-migrant parties, has called for the EU to close its borders to migrants. It has also sealed off its own border with Turkey with a barbed-wire fence, AP said.
Human rights groups and the European Council have criticized the government in Sofia for its treatment of asylum-seekers, particularly unaccompanied minors.