'Let's not close our eyes to migrants', Pope says

On his birthday (December 17) Pope Francis met a group of migrants brought to Italy as part of an initiative by the pontiff to arrange the transfer of 50 migrants from Cyprus, following a visit earlier in the month.

Francis, who was elected the first pontiff from Latin America in 2013, has made the defence of migrants and refugees a cornerstone of his pontificate.

In 2016 the pope visited Lesbos, then at the front-line of Europe's migration crisis, and arranged for 12 Syrian refugees to return to Italy with him.

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