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Samos bursts at the seams as Pope preaches patience while local tempers fray

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By Robert Hackwill
Samos bursts at the seams as Pope preaches patience while local tempers fray
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Greece's Samos island is where the second-largest group of migrants have settled over the last two years.

It has been hard for everyone, and while locals recognise the migrants' desperate plight, their patience is wearing thin.

"We complain but they are also victims. We try to show solidarity. But also Greece is in a difficult situation. Racism has no place in this matter," said one local man.

At Sunday mass the Pope focused on the migrant issue.

"Local communities are sometimes afraid that the newly arrived will disturb the established order," he said.

For one Greek woman, the arrival of the migrants has changed everything.

"We used to walk, run and do everything. Now it is not possible to go out at night, we can't even walk, is it normal?" she said indignantly.

Cultural differences with their hosts are bad enough, but tensions between migrants in the camps also boil over, leading to violence.

"There was a conflict between Afghan and Syrian boys, they were fighting, and then the police arrested some of them, it's always the same," said one Afghan refugee.

The Pope insisted that "the sin is to allow these fears to determine our responses, to limit our choices, to compromise respect and generosity," as he called on people to be patient a little longer.