ROME — Pope Francis urged European nations on Sunday to welcome more immigrants and to ease the burden on countries of first entry, such as Malta, Italy, and Spain.
During his short in-air press conference returning from Malta to Rome, the pontiff said that one of the most serious problems he witnessed during his two-day trip to Malta was immigration.
“The problem of migrants is serious because Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Italy, and Spain are the countries closest to Africa and the Middle East and they land here, they arrive here,” he said.
“Migrants must always be welcomed!” Francis asserted. “The problem is that each government has to say how many it can normally receive in order for them to live there.”
“For this we need an agreement with the countries of Europe, which not all are willing to receive migrants,” he lamented. “We forget that Europe was made by migrants, it is not true?”
“But that’s the way it is,” he continued. “At least don’t leave all the burden on these neighboring countries which are so generous, and Malta is one of them.”
The pope went on to underscore the sufferings of migrants at the hands of unscrupulous overlords, such as those in “the concentration camps — they are concentration camps — on the Libyan coast when they are sent back. This seems criminal.”
Migration “is a problem that touches everyone’s heart,” Francis asserted. “Just as Europe is giving so generously to Ukrainians who knock on the door, so also to others who come from the Mediterranean.”