The Latest: Walls scrubbed of graffiti ahead of pope visit

AP Photo
The Associated Press

MYTILENE, Greece (AP) — The Latest on Pope Francis’ visit to the Greek island of Lesbos (all times local):

09:50 a.m.

Municipal crews are scrubbing walls in the capital and main port of the island of Lesbos after graffiti was sprayed overnight in places where Pope Francis will speak.

The crews removed the words “Papa Don’t Preach” sprayed in black at several points on the seafront in Mytilene.

Francis will visit refugees in Lesbos Saturday to highlight their plight. He will be joined by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, and Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos II, head of the Church of Greece.

The joint trip comes shortly after the start of a controversial European Union-Turkey deal under which any migrant arriving on Greek islands after March 20 will be detained and returned to Turkey unless they successfully apply for asylum in Greece.

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09:35 a.m.

The European border patrol agency Frontex has intercepted a dinghy carrying 41 Syrians and Iraqis off the coast of the Greek island of Lesbos, three hours before Pope Francis was to land on the island for a visit highlighting the plight of refugees.

The refugees were detained and brought to shore Saturday in the port of Mytilene. Later in the day, the pope, along with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, and Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos II, head of the Church of Greece, will toss floral wreaths into the sea nearby in memory of migrants who have died making the same journey.

Under a controversial European Union-Turkey deal that came into effect March 20, all those arriving on Greek islands from that date on are detained and deported back to Turkey unless they successfully apply for asylum in Greece.

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