The Latest: Pope blesses Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

AP News
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Posted: Dec 01, 2017 7:11 AM
The Latest: Pope blesses Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — The Latest on Pope Francis' visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh (all times local):

6:05 p.m.

Pope Francis has greeted and blessed Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled to Bangladesh from neighboring Myanmar, grasping their hands and listening to their stories at an interfaith peace prayer in Dhaka.

The 16 Rohingya — 12 men, two women and two young girls — traveled to Dhaka from Cox's Bazar, the district bordering Myanmar where refugee camps are overflowing with more than 620,000 Rohingya who have fled what the U.N. says is a campaign of ethnic cleansing by Myanmar.

One by one, each one of the refugees approached the pope at the end of Friday's event. Francis grasped their hands and listened intently as they recounted their experiences to him, through an interpreter.

He blessed one little girl, placing his hand on her head, and grasped the shoulder of a young man.

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5:10 p.m.

Pope Francis has traded his popemobile for a rickshaw.

Francis waved to crowds from the backseat of one of Bangladesh's typical bicycle-pulled carts en route Friday to a meeting of interfaith leaders at the residence of Dhaka's archbishop.

Bangladeshi dancers serenaded him as he made his way to the stage for the event, where he was to meet with Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.

Francis has shunned the bullet-proof popemobiles of his predecessors, opting instead for open-sided vehicles so he can personally greet the crowds when he goes on foreign trips. In South Asia, that has meant a few spins in modified golf carts.

Francis isn't the first pope to ride a rickshaw, however. St. John Paul II rode in one when he visited Bangladesh in 1986.