Pope Francis blames Europe and US for deaths of children in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan

Comments follow Pontiff's defence of immigration and apparent criticism of Donald Trump

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Pope Francis has blamed Europe and the United States for the deaths of children in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan, saying that wealthy Western countries fuel conflicts by selling weapons to war zones.

Speaking to students and teachers of Milan’s San Carlo Institute, the Pontiff said the reason there are so many wars around the world is “the rich Europe and America sell weapons… used to kill children and kill people.”

Without such firepower, he added, there would not have been war in countries such as Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria.

“A country that produces and sells weapons has on its conscience the death of every child and the destruction of each family,” Pope Francis said.

He also spoke about the need for countries to welcome and integrate migrants, refuting crime concerns used by governments to justify denying entry to asylum-seekers.

Foreigners are not the source of most crime in Italy because “we also have lots of them,” Pope Francis said.

The comment may be seen as a criticism of the country’s far-right anti-immigration League party, led by Italy’s deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini.

“The Mafia has not been invented by Nigerians. Mafia is ours,” he said. “All of us have the possibility of being criminal. Migrants bring us wealth because Europe has been made by migrants.”

The pope’s defence of immigration follows recent comments which appeared to call out Donald Trump’s proposal for a wall along the US-Mexico border.

In response to a question about immigration on Sunday, Pope Francis said: “Builders of walls, be they made of razor wire or bricks, will end up becoming prisoners of the walls they build.”

However, he did not mention the US president by name when he spoke to reporters.

Associated Press

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