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Pope Francis urges ‘urgent action’ for peace in Gaza

Francis also calls on world community not to forget Ukraine and Myanmar
Pope Francis addresses the crowd from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter's square during the Angelus prayer on June 9.

Pope Francis addresses the crowd from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter's square during the Angelus prayer on June 9. (Photo: AFP)

Published: June 10, 2024 09:17 AM GMT
Updated: June 10, 2024 09:20 AM GMT

Pope Francis has encouraged the international community to "act urgently" and use all means possible to assist the people of Gaza exhausted by the eight-month-old war with Israel.

Following the Sunday Angelus at the Vatican on June 9, Pope Francis appealed for peace in Gaza and urged humanitarian aid to quickly "reach those in need" and that no one should prevent it from arriving, Vatican News reported.

“I encourage the ongoing negotiations between the parties, even though they are not easy,” the pope said.

“I hope that the proposals for peace, a ceasefire on all fronts, and the freeing of hostages will be accepted immediately for the good of Palestinians and Israelis,” the pope added.

The Israel–Gaza war was sparked by Hamas's attack on Oct. 7, 2023, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli official figures, AFP reported.

Militants took 251 hostages, 120 of whom remain in Gaza, including 41 the Israeli army says are dead.

Israel's retaliatory military offensive has killed at least 36,731 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry, AFP reported.

Pope Francis lauded the convening of the International Conference for the Emergency Humanitarian Response in Gaza, organized jointly by Jordan, Egypt, and António Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, on June 11 in Jordan.

“I thank them for this important initiative, I encourage the international community to act urgently, by all means, to come to the aid of the people of Gaza, exhausted by the war,” the pope said.

He also said that June 8 marked the tenth anniversary of the invocation of peace in the Vatican, attended by the then-Israeli president Shimon Peres, and the Palestinian President Abu Mazen.

“That meeting showed that joining hands is possible and that it takes courage to make peace, far more courage than to wage war,” he said.

In his address, Pope Francis reminded his audience to “not forget the tormented Ukrainian people who, the more they suffer, the more they long for peace.”

“We are close to you! It is a desire, this desire for peace, so I encourage all efforts that are being made so that peace can be built as soon as possible, with international help,” the pope said, noting a group of pilgrims holding the Ukrainian flag.

Pope Francis also reminded the audience to “not forget,” Myanmar which is reeling due to a civil war between an illegitimate government under the military junta which seized power through a coup in 2021, and ethnic armed groups.

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Humankind is thirsting for peace. May the Prince of Peace awaken peace in the hearts and minds of all pilgrims on journey.
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