Pope says 10th anniversary of Syrian civil war must spur peace efforts

FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis gives a news conference aboard the papal plane on his flight back after visiting Iraq, March 8, 2021. REUTERS/Yara Nardi/Pool

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis called the Syrian civil war one of the worst humanitarian crises of current times on Sunday, saying its 10th anniversary should spur all to seek “a sliver of hope” for a devastated nation.

In mid-March, 2011, peaceful pro-democracy protests developed into a multi-sided conflict that sucked in world powers, killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions more.

“I renew my heartfelt appeal so that all sides in the conflict show a sign of good will so that a sliver of hope can open up for the worn-out population,” Francis told several hundred people in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly blessing and message.

Syria had seen “every type of violence and enormous suffering by the population, particularly the most vulnerable, such as children, women and the elderly,” said the pope, who last Monday returned from a trip to bordering Iraq.

He also called for a “decisive” commitment by the international community to end fighting and help reconstruction and economic recovery.

He then led the crowd in prayer for the “beloved and martyred Syria.”

Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Bernadette Baum