Pope Francis has praised Uganda for its "outstanding" response in welcoming refugees, as he began a visit to that nation on the second leg of his African tour.
"Here in East Africa, Uganda has shown outstanding concern for welcoming refugees, enabling them to rebuild their lives in security with a sense of dignity," the pontiff said after flying into the town of Entebbe Friday. "How we deal with them is a test of our humanity."
The U.N. refugee agency says Uganda hosts more than 500,000 refugees, most of whom have fled conflict and violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
People waiting for the Pope in Kangemi, Nov. 27, 2015. (J. Craig/VOA)
Pope Francis also said the "world looks to Africa as the continent of hope," noting that his three-nation tour is aimed at drawing attention to Africa's "achievements and struggles."
The pope will also spend Saturday in Uganda, followed by a visit to the Central African Republic Sunday. In those visits, he is set to tour a Christian shrine, a mosque, and a refugee camp before he returns to Rome on Monday.
The pontiff flew to Uganda from Kenya, where he urged Kenyan youth to avoid tribalism and make the choice to listen and reach out to one another.
He spoke to tens of thousands of young Africans at Kenya's Ksarani Stadium Friday, addressing their concerns about violence and corruption with a call to them to pray, seek to understand, and cooperate with one another, rather than give in to the impulse to commit violence against one another.
The Pope greeting a woman in a wheelchair at the event in Kangemi, Nov. 27, 2015. (J. Craig/VOA)
He told his audience they have the power to choose: either the path of "difficulty and division," or the path of overcoming one's self-interest and one's difficulties.
Pope Francis spoke after a triumphant entrance to the stadium, standing and waving in his open-sided white vehicle — the so-called "popemobile," as children and young adults greeted him with signs, cheers, and song. Members of the crowd blew horns, sang, and waved back, some flapping Kenyan flags in the air.
One fan carried a sign that read "Keep Calm and Welcome the Pope."