The only Catholic church on the Greek island of Lesbos has become a haven for many African migrants who have crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey. Traveling through Turkey is an increasingly popular route for African migrants heading to Europe who are desperate to avoid torture and slavery on their journey through Libya.
After filing out of the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Lesbos’ only Catholic church, African migrants wait for the bus to take them back to the tents and containers of Moria Camp and the overspill settlement known as the Olive Grove.
Today, prayers have been dedicated to Jean-Paul, a migrant from Cameroon who died in Moria.
The reason for his death is disputed. The camp’s director says Jean-Paul was in poor health and had a history of medical problems. The 24-year-old’s friends say that he suffered in the squalid living conditions of the camp and that he eventually died from the cold.
Jean-Paul’s family saved up every last penny they had to send him to Europe after he was targeted by threats of violence. He came from an English-speaking region of Cameroon, where attacks on civilians and security forces have escalated dramatically in the past 18 months amid separatist claims for independence.
“We just can’t believe it,” Jean-Paul’s brother told InfoMigrants over the phone. “For us, it’s not real right now.”
Jean-Paul never planned to stay in Europe. He had hoped the unrest back home would eventually subside so that he could return to his wife and baby son.