Pope Francis on Tuesday used his Christmas message to appeal for peace in conflict zones like Syria and Yemen and wished for fraternity among countries and cultures.
“My wish is a wish for fraternity, among individuals of every nation and culture,” Pope Francis said in his traditional “Urbi and Orbi” (To the City and to the World) address in Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican City. “Fraternity among people with different ideas, yet capable of respecting and listening to one another. Fraternity among persons of different religions.”
The pontiff said he hoped that a truce in Yemen would end a war described by the United Nations as “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis”. Close to 75% of the country’s population require some form of humanitarian assistance and protection and the UN had earlier warned that Yemen could face the worst famine in a century if the Saudi Arabia-led coalition did not stop aerial strikes against Iranian-backed Shiite rebels.
“My thoughts turn to Yemen, in the hope that the truce brokered by the international community may finally bring relief to all those children and people exhausted by war and famine,” he said.
Pope Francis also spoke about the war in Syria. United States President Donald Trump last week declared that he would withdraw American troops from the country after the defeat of the Islamic State.
“May the international community work to the political solution that can be put aside divisions and partisan interests, so that the Syrian people, especially those who were forced to leave their own lands and seek refuge elsewhere, can return to live in peace in their own country,” Pope Francis said, adding that he hoped for peace talks between Israel and Palestine as well.
The pontiff also evoked Africa, “where millions of people are refugees or displaced and in need of humanitarian assistance and food security”, he said.