CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 25, 2004 ( John Paul II appealed for an end to the conflicts that bloody Africa, especially Uganda and the Darfur region of western Sudan.

The Pope appealed today to local governments and to the world community for greater commitment, and called for prayers and the solidarity of Catholics worldwide.

"During these days of relaxation and rest, I often think of the tragic conditions being endured in different areas of the world," the Holy Father said before praying the midday Angelus with the 1,000 pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence.

"For over 18 years, the North of Uganda has been scourged by an inhuman conflict, which affects millions of people, especially children," he said. "Many of them, gripped by fear and deprived of a future, feel constrained to 'become soldiers.'"

"I appeal to the international community and to the national political authorities to put an end to this tragic conflict and to offer a real prospect of peace for the whole Ugandan nation," the Pope exhorted.

He also expressed concern about "the situation in which the beloved peoples of Darfur find themselves, the western area of Sudan bordering with Chad. The war, which has intensified in recent months, brings with it ever more poverty, despair and death."

"Two decades of bitter confrontations have resulted in a great number of dead, displaced persons and refugees in Sudan," John Paul II said. "How can we remain indifferent?"

Given the critical situation, the Pope made "a heartfelt appeal to political authorities and international organizations, so that they will not forget these brothers of ours who suffer so much."

Lastly, John Paul II appealed especially to Christians to pray for these peoples and show their solidarity concretely.

"In Uganda, the bishops, helped by other dioceses of the world and by voluntary organizations, are working with generosity for national reconciliation and to help people in difficulty," he noted.

The Holy Father added: "In Darfur, I wished to send precisely in these days the president of the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum,' Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, so that he would take to those troubled peoples the spiritual and material solidarity of the Holy See and the universal Church."