- Uganda is home to 490,000 refugees mainly from Congo, Burundi
- Pope departs Sunday for war-torn Central African Republic
Pope Francis commended Uganda for showing "outstanding concern" by hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled injustices, as he began the second leg of an African tour.
It’s testament to the country’s "humility" and "respect for human dignity," the pope said in a speech on Friday at Entebbe, Uganda, shortly after arriving from neighboring Kenya. He was welcomed at the airport by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who plans to run in elections next year to extend his three-decade grip on power.
Uganda is home to more than 490,000 refugees mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Burundi, according to the United Nations. People should help each other even if they hold "different beliefs and convictions," the pontiff said.
His words resonated more widely given the European Union is grappling with the region’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II, with a mass influx of people fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq along with other parts of the Middle East and Africa.
The pope’s visit has been marked by tightened security in East Africa, a region plagued by Islamist militant attacks. Earlier Friday in Kenya, speaking at one of Nairobi’s largest slums, the pope accused corrupt Kenyan officials of imposing a new phase of colonialism through crimes including land grabs and he criticized those who "cling to power and wealth."
Pope Francis will leave Uganda on Sunday for the Central African Republic, which has been gripped by cycles of violence and lawlessness that has pitted mostly Muslim rebels against Christian militias since 2013.