Pope Francis Meets Cameroonian Migrant Who Survived Tunisia-Libya Desert

Pope Francis meets with Pato, a migrant from Cameroun who lost his wife Matyla and child Marie in the desert between Libya and Tunisia last July. Credit: Vatican Media

Pope Francis has me with a Cameroonian mgriant who lost his wife and daughter in the desert between Libya and Tunisia last July.

On Friday, November 17, the Holy See Press Office reported that Pope Francis met with Mbengue Nyimbilo Crepin (known as Pato), accompanied by Fr. Mattia Ferrari, who serves as chaplain to Mediterranea Saving Humans, also assisting them in many rescue missions.

With them were a number of migrants and collaborators of associations and entities involved in the reception and integration of refugees, who in various ways helped facilitate Pato's arrival in Italy, as well as Cardinal Michael Czerny, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

Pato lost his wife, Matyla and six-year-old daughter, Marie in July this year after being stopped and returned to the desert between Libya and Tunisia by Tunisian authorities.

Amid emotion over his story, Pope Francis listened to words of gratitude for the meeting and painful accounts of the thousands of people who suffer as they attempt to reach Europe.


David, from South Sudan, working alongside prisoners in detention camps in North Africa, thanked the Pope for his encouragement and interventions on behalf of migrants.

He said, "You not only offer us a dream, you welcome us."

In greeting them, after listening to their words, Pope Francis turned to Pato, with a thought for his wife and daughter, "I have prayed so much for them."

He thanked them all for their commitment, while recalling that being born in places where one can study and work is a privilege.

"Privilege is a debt," he said, and added, "what you do is not a plus, it is a duty."

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Finally, before saying goodbye, Pope Francis prayed for those present, asking the Lord to watch over those who "work for others," the people who could not come, those in detention camps, and "the many, many who suffer."

This story was first published by ACI Stampa, ACI Africa's Italian-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by ACI Africa.

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