Fifty refugees to leave Cyprus for Italy with pope

Fifty refugees to leave Cyprus for Italy with pope

Pope Francis will take 50 refugees from Cyprus to Italy, the Mediterranean island nation’s President Nicos Anastasiades announced Thursday.

Pope Francis began his five-day visit to Cyprus and Greece Thursday, seeking to draw renewed attention to the plight of migrants on Europe’s borders and to boost Orthodox-Catholic ties.

Anastasiades said the Cypriot people “know better than anyone the pain of uprooting and refuge from their ancestral homes.” He thanked the pope for his initiative because Cyprus, he stressed, is the recipient of the most refugees as a proportion of its population, with many flowing through the Turkish-occupied territories in the north.

Francis will travel to Athens Saturday, with his itinerary for Greece including a visit to a refugee reception center on the island of Lesvos, which was on the frontline of a mass migrant influx into Europe in 2015.

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