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Pope Francis visits Mexico jail on last day of tour

February 17, 2016 5:05 pm

Pope Francis is visiting a prison in the northern city of Ciudad Juarez on Wednesday, on the last day of his five-day visit to Mexico

He also celebrated a Mass on the United States border.

More than 200,000 people are expected to attend the service, which the Pope will use to highlight the suffering of migrants, tens of thousands of whom cross the border every year.

Ciudad Juarez was once one of the most violent cities in Mexico.

The Pope’s visit is seen as a chance to give hope to the city’s residents, who lived through a spate of murders of women and rampant drug violence which meant few dared leave their homes at night.

Pope Francis is visiting Cereso jail, a mixed prison in Ciudad Juarez which houses about 700 inmates, 250 of them women.

His visit comes just days after days after 49 prisoners died in a fight between rival gang members at the Topo Chico jail in the north-eastern city of Monterrey.

Mexican prisons are notoriously overcrowded and corrupt and the meeting between inmates and the pontiff is expected to draw further attentions to these problems.

The BBC’s Mexico correspondent Katy Watson says Pope Francis’s entire tour in Mexico has been focused on speaking to people who are marginalised.

He has repeatedly called on the country’s leaders to make it a better place for people to live.

On Tuesday, he told young Mexicans in the violence-hit state of Michoacan “to dare to dream”.

He urged them to reject a life of crime and to “feel your value”.

“It is a lie to believe that the only way to live, or to be young, is to entrust oneself to drug dealers or others who do nothing but sow destruction and death.

“Jesus would never ask us to be assassins; rather, he calls us to be disciples,” the pontiff said.