‘Invest wisely’ in migrants’ home countries, says Pope Francis
ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE – Agence France-Presse
Pope Francis, who has put the plight of migrants in Europe at the heart of his concerns, said on June 21 it was time "to invest wisely to give them work and education" in their countries of origin, in particular in Africa.
"The problem of wars is difficult to solve, as is the problem of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and Nigeria," but "the problem of hunger can be solved," he said during a press conference on the plane returning from a trip to Geneva.
The pope’s comments reflect an investment plan being considered by European governments.
"In the collective unconscious, there is a bad idea that we can exploit Africa, always a land of slaves," he lamented.
"This must change with investment plans, we’ve got to grow them!" he said, praising "the cultural wealth of Africa.”
Francis also recalled his four criteria for welcoming migrants: “to welcome, accompany, accommodate, integrate,” adding a caveat he has regularly mentioned since a trip to Sweden in autumn 2016.
“Every country has to do this with the government virtue of prudence, because a country has to host as many refugees as it can, that it can integrate and educate,” he said.
“We have a wave of refugees fleeing wars and hunger, war and hunger in so many countries of Africa, wars and persecution in the Middle East,” he said, congratulating in particular Italy and Greece which had been “extremely generous” in their welcome, just like Turkey or Lebanon.
The pope however made no reference to the new populist government in Italy which has banned NGO-operated migrant rescue ships from docking.