Pope Francis condemned the “ocean of pain” engulfing Syria and Iraq, where civil war and Islamic State (IS) militants have forced millions from their homes.
Addressing a meeting of Catholic charities and bishops who work in the Middle East, Francis described the conflicts in the two countries as “one of the most overwhelming human tragedies of recent decades”.
The Argentine pontiff called for a non-violent solution to the fighting, saying that, unlike past atrocities, the modern violence was broadcast live by the media.
“No one can pretend not to know. Everyone is aware that this war weighs in an increasingly unbearable way on the shoulders of the poor,” Francis said.
Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, where millions of refugees have arrived in the more than four years that Syria has been at war, have received them “generously”, but “the international community seems unable to find adequate solutions”, he said.
An emergency meeting of EU ministers failed to agree on a plan to share out some 160,000 newly arrived refugees, a measure aimed at relieving pressure on the region’s border countries like Italy, Greece and Hungary.
Francis also mourned the plight of Christians in Syria and Iraq, saying they were oppressed for their faith.
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