Posted on December 17, 2021

Cyprus Asylum Seekers Head for New Lives in Italy Thanks to Pope

Agence France-Presse, December 16, 2021

Six asylum seekers Pope Francis is helping relocate from Cyprus expressed gratitude and hope as they left to start their new lives in Italy Thursday barely a week before Christmas.

Cypriot authorities had said the pontiff, who visited the divided island earlier this month, would take 50 migrants, who also include Muslims, in a gesture of “solidarity”.

Authorities said a dozen people left on Thursday.

A Vatican source told AFP that the first group would meet the pope on Friday.

Hinda Warsame, 25, from Somalia, and her sisters Naima, 22, and Fadoumo, 19, came to Cyprus this year.

The trio grew up in Saudi Arabia but said they were caught with expired papers and jailed before being deported to Somalia -– an unfamiliar and dangerous country where they had barely any family.


Warsame said she cried the day she heard the pope might take them.

“I didn’t sleep for one week,” she said.

“I am Muslim but I really admire that the pope and the Christian church chose to help us,” she said.

Also getting ready to leave was Issa Shamma, 37, who fled to Lebanon in 2017 seeking refuge from the war in neighbouring Syria.


Also a Muslim, Shamma thanked the pope and his future host community.

“No Arab country has opened their door for us, has accepted us as refugees. Western countries opened their doors for us and our children,” he said.