A Christian brother and sister from Syria say they have been "let down" by the Pope after he left them behind in a Lesbos refugee camp despite promises they would be given a new life in Italy, reports The Daily Mail.
Roula and Malek Abo say they were two of the lucky "chosen 12" refugees selected by the Vatican to be taken from the camp and housed in Rome. But their hopes were dashed when they were told the following day they couldn't go. Instead, three Muslim families were taken.
Roula, 22, and her brother arrived on Lesbos on April 1 – 10 days after the controversial EU deal to return all asylum-seekers arriving in Greece from Turkey.
Their application for asylum is being processed and they are waiting to learn if they will be sent back to Turkey.
Stuck on Lesbos, Roula told Mail Online: "If they can do this for 12 people they can do it for more. If you have promised to take people back to Italy will something like registration papers stand in your way?"
Neither Community Sant'Egidio, the charity which organised the trip, nor the Vatican would explain the selection process over which migrants were picked.
Spokesman Massimiliano Signifredi called the incident "regrettable", adding: "The problem here is the Syrians arrived after the March 20 deadline. They arrived just after the agreement between the European Union and Turkey."
Mr Signifredi added: "Our staff went to Lesbos and spoke with the people who were selected. But everything was decided by the Vatican.
"The question why the Pope took only Muslims is difficult to understand and he was suffering, I think, because he wanted to do something also for Christians as the chief of the Church. But he couldn't because there is this international agreement [with the EU]."
The Vatican declined to comment.
Photo: Roula and Malek Abo were not among the chosen 12 because they arrived on Lesbos 10 days after the controversial EU deal to return failed asylum seekers to Greece from Turkey (Athena Pictures)