Pope Francis’ visit to the Peace Lab on Sunday will bring “magnificent joy” to migrants and rekindle hope among many who remain “stateless, hopeless and just surviving”.

These are the words of Peace Lab residents who have written an open letter to the pontiff thanking him for taking the time to visit them and sending a strong message of support for migrants and refugees.

“You are the only hope and I know your prayers will be heard,” says the letter, signed by Livingstone Ngetuny on behalf of the migrants who reside at the Peace Lab, and delivered to Times of Malta.

You have once confirmed what I know, of the Mediterranean being the largest cemetery in the world.- Peace Lab resident Livingstone Ngetuny

The Peace Lab was set up in 1971 following an appeal by Pope John XXIII for the world to reflect on peace and is now home to migrants and refugees. It will be the Pope’s last stop, on Sunday, of his two-day visit starting tomorrow.

On Wednesday, Pope Francis signalled that migration will be the focus of his visit, saying Malta was “even more committed to welcoming so many brothers and sisters seeking refuge”.

The government has been accused of being involved in illegally pushing back several migrants to war-torn Libya, even if it denies the claims.

Ngetuny writes: “What we wish and pray for is just someone to hear our cries, someone to come into reality that we are not here on holiday, nor to destroy anything, rather we are in need of protection, something which some of us have already given up on.”

His letter starts by thanking Pope Francis for putting the spotlight on the plight of migrants, many of whom die at sea as they flee their country to escape war or persecution.

“You have once confirmed what I know, of the Mediterranean being the largest cemetery in the world...”

Some were lucky to make it to Malta where they were welcome, he says. To some, the Peace Lab has become their “haven” and their family.

The pope’s coming would “renew the kindness the people of this island have long held”.

“Day in day out we hope for the better… the news of your coming has elevated our hopes more than ever before.”

The residents thank the pope for speaking out on behalf “of the blacks who have for so many years been subject to racism and abuse”.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us