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Pope appeals for international community to help Syria’s civilians

Syrian refugees at the Lebanon border. Eleven million people are displaced (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

Pope Francis appealed for international help for Syrian civilians caught in the country’s five-year civil war.

Speaking yesterday in St Peter’s Square in Rome, Pope Francis said: “I follow with deep concern the dramatic fate of civilian populations involved in heavy fighting in their beloved Syria, and who are forced to leave everything behind in order to escape the horrors of war.”

In his post-Angelus address, the Pope expressed hope that, “with generous solidarity,” the Syrian people might receive the help they need “to ensure their survival and dignity.”

The Pontiff also appealed to the international community, and stressed that only a political solution will resolve the conflict and secure “a future of reconciliation and peace in that beloved and martyred country.”

He then led the crowds in praying the Hail Mary “to Our Lady for the beloved Syria”.

Last weekend thousands of civilians fled from rebel-held Aleppo after the Syrian government’s Russian allies began a bombardment of the country’s second city.

An estimated 250,000 people have been killed since the war began in March 2011 and 11 million are displaced.

During the address, the Pope also acknowledged the Day for Life in Italy, and added his voice to a call by Italian bishops for educational and social institutions to advocate for “human life from conception to its natural end.”

Francis asked for prayers ahead of his papal visit to Mexico, that will take place from February 12-18, and his upcoming meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, who he called his “dear brother.” The Pope will meet the Patriarch on February 12, on his way to Mexico.