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Vatican-sponsored refugees arrive in Rome

ROME (Agencies): The 12 refugees who were at risk of deportation from the Greek island of Lesvos that returned to Italy with Pope Francis got straight down to work, beginning classes in Italian just a few days after their arrival.

The three Syrian families spent their first day with their host community, the lay peace group of Sant’Egidio. On the following evening, a celebratory dinner was held in the Trastevere neighbourhood for the six adults, four children and two adolescents.

ANSA reported that staff from Sant’Egidio said that all have warmly thanked Pope Francis. The pope visited the Greek island on Saturday in a bid to raise awareness about the refugee crisis and those affected by a European Union-Turkey deal to deport many of them.

The pope spent five hours on Lesbos on April 17 with Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, and Archbishop Ieronymos II, from Athens and all of Greece.

He also met with refugees, saying that the three families from Syria he brought back with him on the papal plane was a ‘gesture of welcome.

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