The Latest: Vatican brings Syrian refugees to Rome

AP News
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Posted: Jun 17, 2016 9:05 AM
The Latest: Vatican brings Syrian refugees to Rome

BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on Europe's migrant crisis (all times local):

3:05 p.m.

Following Pope Francis' lead, the Vatican has brought a second group of Syrian refugees to Rome.

The Vatican said Friday nine refugees, including three children, were accompanied by Holy See security personnel on their trip from Athens Thursday. Two of the arrivals are Christians.

They had been living in Kara Tepe refugee camp after arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos by sea from Turkey.

Francis wants Europe to welcome the hundreds of thousands of migrants, fleeing war, persecution and poverty, who reached the continent from the Middle East, Asia and Africa, many aboard smugglers boats.

In May, the first group of Syrian refugees flew to Rome aboard Francis' plane, when he returned from visiting Lesbos. That group and the latest arrivals are receiving housing from a Catholic charity.

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2:15 p.m.

Turkey's coast guard says it has caught 39 migrants who were attempting to cross the Aegean Sea to reach Greece.

Information about the nationalities in the group, which was stopped Thursday, hasn't been released.

The coast guard also shared footage Friday of a migrant boat being stopped on June 15 off the coast of Cesme, a Turkish seaside town.

It said 51 migrants, including 13 women and 9 children, were stopped from making the journey. Among them were 33 Syrians and 18 Eritreans.

The coast guard said 25,954 migrants have been caught since Jan. 1, including 346 since the beginning of June. The number of migrants who have succeeded in getting to Greece has dwindled since a Turkey-EU migrant deal reached on March 20.

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11:10 a.m.

The medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders says it will no longer seek European Union funding in protest against the EU's migrant deal with Turkey.

Secretary General Jerome Oberreit said Friday that Doctors Without Borders "will no longer request funds from the EU and its member states."

The EU money totaled around 46 million euros ($52 million) in 2015, about eight percent of the organization's total budget.

Oberreit said the group still plans to keep working in Greece and Turkey and will seek money from other sources to keep its projects going.