After reciting the Angelus together with the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope called attention to the ongoing conflict taking place in the North Kivu region of Congo.

"Bloody armed skirmishes and systematic atrocities have caused and continue to cause many casualties among innocent civilians," he lamented. "Destruction, looting and violence of every type have forced tens of thousands of persons to abandon even what little they had to survive.

"The number of refugees is estimated at more than 1 and a half million."

"To all and to each one I desire to express my special nearness, as I encourage and bless those who are working to alleviate their sufferings, among whom are the pastoral workers of the Church of that region," the Pontiff stated. "To families and their loved ones I offer my condolences and assure my prayers."

The Pontiff also called "upon all to work together to restore peace, respect for law and the dignity of every person to that land, for too long martyred."