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Pope Francis thanked Italy and Greece for their efforts on migration and "blessed" the Italian government's work on migrants and Libya, speaking to journalists on his return flight from his recent visit to Colombia.

 "A government must manage such a problem with the governor's own virtue, prudence. What does that mean? First: How many places do I have? Second: Not only receive, but integrate," he said. Regarding the condition of migrants who remain in Libya, Pope Francis said, "I have the impression that the Italian government is doing all it can, for humanitarian work, to resolve even problems it cannot assume". 


Gratitude towards Italy and Greece

 "I feel a debt of gratitude to Italy and Greece, because they have opened their hearts to migrants," Pope Francis said. "But it's not enough to open your heart. The problem of migrants is first, an open heart, always, even for God's commandment, receive, because 'you were a slave', migrant, in Egypt". The pontiff said he had "seen examples in Italy of wonderful integration. I went to Rome's Tre University, four students asked me questions. One, she was the last, I was looking at her, I know this face. It was someone that less than a year ago had come from Lesbo with me on a flight, she learned the language, she had studied biology in her home country, she had her studies recognised and now she's continuing. This is called integration," he said. 

Pope Francis said on another flight returning from Sweden, "I spoke about the policies of integration in that country as a model. But even Sweden said with prudence, this is the number, I can't do any more, because there's danger of an excess". In Libya there's a "humanitarian problem" Pope Francis said there's a "humanitarian problem" in Libya."Humanity is aware of these concentration camps, these conditions in Libya, in the desert... I've seen the photographs... the exploiters...". He said he believes "the Italian government is doing all it can, for humanitarian work, to resolve even problems it cannot assume. But: open heart always, prudence and integration, and humanitarian closeness".

He said, "In our collective unconscious there's a motto, a principle: Africa is to be exploited. A head of state said a beautiful truth on this: 'those who flee war are another problem; but many who flee from hunger, let's invest there so they can grow'. But in the collective unconscious it's that every time many developed countries go to Africa, it's to exploit. We have to turn this around. Africa is a friend and it needs help to grow". (Picture: Pope Francis talks to journalists during a press conference he held on board of his flight to Rome at the end of a five-day visit to Colombia, 11 September 2017. EPA/Andrew Medichini / POOL)
 

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