Pope: Refugees deserve dignified welcome

By the Associated Press | June 19, 2011 | 6:29 AM EDT

SAN MARINO (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI says refugees deserve a dignified welcome from countries receiving them, until they can return home freely and safely.

Benedict marked World Refugee Day, which is being observed Monday, with an appeal Sunday to political leaders to "guarantee a welcome and dignified living conditions" for refugees.

He made the comments during a visit to San Marino, a tiny republic of some 30,000 people surrounded by Italy and located near the Adriatic city of Rimini.

More than 20,000 migrants from Tunisia and Libya have flocked to Italy in recent months fleeing unrest in North Africa. Italy's center-right government has struck new agreements with Tunisia and Libya to return those who don't qualify for refugee status.