Pope urges 'solidarity' with refugees from conflict
Vatican City (AFP) April 24, 2011
Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday urged "solidarity" with refugees from conflict, in particular Africans, in his Easter message to the world.
"May help come from all sides to those fleeing conflict and to refugees from various African countries who have been obliged to leave all that is dear to them," the pope said.
"May people of goodwill open their hearts to welcome them, so that the pressing needs of so many brothers and sisters will be met with a concerted response in a spirit of solidarity," he added.
Hundreds of thousands of people have fled unrest in north Africa, going to neighbouring countries or braving Mediterranean waters, often in rickety fishing boats, to reach European shores.
Many are immigrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa joining a steady flow of economic migrants seeking a better life.
The UN refugee agency has said that African nationals have repeatedly been "physically abused or even killed" by Libyans angry over strongman Moamer Kadhafi's reported use of sub-Saharan mercenaries to quash protests.
Europe's open borders are facing a major test as the flood of migrants strains neighbourly relations.
The tensions coincide with the rise of far-right populist parties that have put pressure on mainstream governments in Europe.
The pope, who uses his "Urbi et Orbi" (To the City and the World) message to comment on the world's trouble spots, also spoke of the aftermath of political unrest in the Ivory Coast and earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan.
"May peaceful coexistence be restored among the peoples of Ivory Coast, where there is an urgent need to tread the path of reconciliation and pardon, in order to heal the deep wounds caused by the recent violence," said the head of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics.
"May Japan find consolation and hope as it faces the dramatic consequences of the recent earthquake, along with other countries that in recent months have been tested by natural disasters which have sown pain and anguish," he said.
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