Live updates

Syrian refugee Pope took to Rome 'overwhelmed'

A Syrian refugee taken to Rome by the Pope and offered the chance to start a new life with her family in Italy has said she is "overwhelmed" by the Pontiff's kindness.

Nour Essa also said she was still in shock after the "surprise" of herself, her husband and their two-year-old son being chosen by drawing lots as one of three families to accompany the Pope home.

The family, who have been taken into the care of Rome's Sant'Egidio charity, only found out they had been picked the night before Pope Francis' visit to meet refugees and migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos.

The night before the visiting of the pope, Sant'Egidio came to our camp and made interviews with us, so we know (knew) that we were chosen at nine o'clock in the evening. And they told us that 'you must be ready the day after, you must be ready tomorrow because your plane is tomorrow', so it was like a surprise.

– Nour Essa

Syrian refugee families arrive in Rome

Three Syrian refugee families arrived in Rome this evening after Pope Francis brought them home with him following a tour of the Greek island of Lesbos.

The 12 refugees - including six children - smiled broadly as they were pictured getting out of cars at the Sant'Egidio Community centre after being randomly being selected after drawing lots to start a new life in Italy.

The Pope brought three families back to Italy with him after his visit to meet refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos Credit: APTN
Among those to arrive were six children and six adults Credit: APTN
Children were pictured holding up a 'thank you' banner as the families arrived Credit: APTN


Pope 'takes 12 Syrian refugees' back to Rome

Three families of Syrian refugees boarded the Pope's plane Credit: Reuters

Pope Francis has taken 12 refugees from Syria - including six children - with him on his plane back to Rome, according to the Vatican.

In a statement, the Vatican said the pontiff "desired to make a gesture of welcome" regarding refugees.

Three families of refugees, reportedly selected from lots drawn, boarded the Pope's plane as it left the Greek island of Lesbos, the statement said.

All of the refugees were Muslim - two families from Damascus and one from ISIS-controlled Deir Azzor - and will be looked after by the Sant'Egidio Christian community once they arrive in Rome.


Pope tells refugees: 'You are not alone'

The Pope addressed migrants and refugees at a camp in Lesbos Credit: Reuters

Pope Francis has called on European leaders to respond to the migrant crisis "with courage and in a way that is worthy of our common humanity".

Speaking from the Greek island of Lesbos on Saturday, the pontiff said Europe should do more to tackle the continent's refugee crisis.

Using The Parable of the Good Samaritan while addressing refugees and migrants, he called on Christians to show more mercy and understanding to those in need.

"I want to tell you that you are not alone", he told the crowd.

Pope to take 'vulnerable' refugees back to Vatican

The refugees are expected to be among "vulnerable groups" Credit: Reuters

Pope Francis wants to take a number of refugees back from Lesbos to the Vatican with him, a Greek official has said.

The refugees are expected to be among "vulnerable groups" who arrived on the Greek island before an EU-Turkey deportation deal took effect in March.

An official of Greece's state refugee coordination agency couldn't confirm whether this would take place immediately after the pontiff's five-hour trip to Lesbos.

Pope meets welcoming refugees and kisses baby

Pope Francis was greeted by refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos on Saturday, some saying "welcome to Greece" in English or "I love you".

Others held placards reading "Please save the Yazidi people from genocide" or "we want freedom".

At one point, the Catholic church leader kisses a baby on the cheek.

Refugees greeted Pope Francis "welcome to Greece" Credit: Reuters
Load more updates