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Don’t Use Migrants as Pawns in Political Strategies, Pope Tells Governments | world news

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Monday that migrants were being exploited as “pawns” on a political chessboard, apparently referring to the crisis at the Belarusian border.

Thousands of migrants are stranded on the European Union’s eastern border in what the EU says is a crisis Minsk engineered by handing out Belarusian visas to the Middle East,

fly them and let them go to the border.

In a video message for the 70th anniversary of the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM), Francis said denying migrants their basic dignity was against the tenets of most religions.

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“Even more regrettable is the fact that migrants are increasingly being used as bargaining chips, like pawns on a chessboard, victims of political rivalries,” Francis said.

“How can suffering and despair be exploited to advance or defend political agendas? How can political considerations prevail when it is the dignity of the human person that is at stake? he said.

Poland and other EU countries say the crisis is part of a “hybrid war” that Belarus is waging in retaliation for EU sanctions imposed in response to Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko’s crushing of protests over his contested re-election last year and is designed to destabilize the bloc.

Lukashenko accused the EU of deliberately provoking a humanitarian crisis that needed to be resolved.

Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, bearing the brunt of the crisis, have deployed thousands of border guards, soldiers and police to seal the border and repel migrants trying to cross from Belarus.

Francis made the defense of migrants and refugees a cornerstone of his pontificate and in his message to IOM said that beyond the political and legal aspects of irregular situations, “we must never lose sight of the human face of migration”.

Belarus has started bringing some migrants home, mostly to Iraq, but said it was awaiting an EU response to its demand that Germany accept 2,000 people stranded at the border, which the EU has said. rejected and Germany denied accepting it. .

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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