By Bob Van Voris, CNN
(CNN) — Pope Francis, addressing about 100,000 people gathered on the cliffs of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, declared Monday that he would be transferring migrants, most of them from sub-Saharan Africa, to Italy after the pontiff landed in the country Wednesday.
“With joy and gratitude to the Lord, I announce to you, dear Cyprus, that after my visit to your island tomorrow, when I go in a helicopter to Rome, I will take very many people with me — Africans who are here in Cyprus, who thank God, are spending their money. They are struggling, they’re poor, and they don’t have any hope in their lives,” Francis said.
“There are a lot of people like this.”
No words were uttered to describe what those migrants will actually do when they reach Italy. They will be taken in at the airport by the pope’s traveling party, according to Italian news reports.
Cyprus is the easternmost island in the Mediterranean Sea, just off the coast of Turkey. Since refugees seeking asylum are not recognized under international law, they are considered illegal immigrants and cannot be returned to their country of origin without a proper procedure under the Geneva Convention.