News / Europe

Pope Calls for Renewed Political Will to End Syrian Conflict

Pope Francis (L) makes his “State of the World” address during an audience with the diplomatic corps at the Vatican, Jan. 13, 2014.
Pope Francis (L) makes his “State of the World” address during an audience with the diplomatic corps at the Vatican, Jan. 13, 2014.
Reuters
— Pope Francis on Monday called for renewed political will to end the conflict in Syria and lamented a “general indifference” to the plight of refugees around the world.

In his first “State of the World” address to diplomats from 180 countries accredited to the Vatican, Francis also spoke of his concern over violence in Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and parts of Africa.

“What is presently needed is a renewed political will to end the conflict,” the pope said of the civil war in Syria, which has killed more than 100,000 people, forced more than 2 million to flee abroad and displaced another 4 million inside the country.

“At the same time, full respect for humanitarian law remains essential. It is unacceptable that unarmed civilians, especially children, become targets,” he said.

In his yearly address, the head of the 1.2-billion-member Roman Catholic Church said he hoped the Geneva 2 conference due on Jan. 22 under U.N. auspices “will mark the beginning of the desired peace process.”

He lamented that many people in the Middle East and Africa were living as “refugees in camps where they are no longer seen as persons but as nameless statistics”.

Focus on refugees

The world had forgotten those who risked their lives in rickety boats to seek a better life in Europe, he said.

In October, 366 Eritreans drowned in a shipwreck near the  Italian island of Lampedusa. Sea arrivals to Italy from north Africa more than tripled in 2013, fueled by Syria's civil war and strife in the Horn of Africa.

“Sadly, there is a general indifference in the face of these tragedies, which is a dramatic sign of the loss of that sense of responsibility for our brothers and sisters on which every civil society is based,” he said.

The pope also spoke of his concern that conflicts in the Middle East and north Africa were fueling “an exodus of Christians” fleeing because of fears for their safety.

Christians now comprise 5 percent of the population of the Middle East, down from 20 percent a century ago. According to some estimates, the current population of 12 million Christians in the Middle East could halve by 2020.

Francis made another appeal for respect for the environment. Quoting a popular saying in his native Argentina, he said, "God always forgives, we sometimes forgive, but when nature - creation - is mistreated, she never forgives.”

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid