Pope Francis expressed "concern for the situation of displaced people in various parts of the world", highlighting the urgent need to "renew the commitment to the protection of refugees and people fleeing violence and persecution."
Pope Francis on Monday spoke at his annual meeting with ambassadors to the Holy See, and said that not since WWII has there been "such a dramatic increase in the number of refugees as the one we are seeing today."
The Pope continued that "consequently, there is an urgent need for renewed commitment to protect them, together with internally displaced persons and the many vulnerable people forced to flee from persecution, violence, conflicts and wars. Despite the important efforts made by the United Nations in seeking solutions and concrete proposals to address in a consistent manner the issue of forced displacement, the Holy See expresses its deep concern over the situation of displaced persons in different areas of the world."
Appeal for the Sahel
"I am thinking primarily of the central region of the Sahel where, in less than two years, the number of internally displaced persons has increased twentyfold," Pope Francis said.
The Pope said he was looking forward "to the negotiation of the European Union's New Pact on Migration and Asylum," while noting that concrete policies and mechanisms will not work "unless they are supported by the necessary political will and commitment of all parties involved, including civil society and migrants themselves."
Humanitarian channels for migrants on 'Balkan route'
The issue of migrants and refugees is one that is particularly important to Pope Francis, who has spoken on numerous occasions in favor of people fleeing their countries of origin.
On February 7, at the conclusion of the Angelus prayer, the pontiff made an appeal in favor of unaccompanied migrants, pointing out that, "there are so many!"
Pope Francis said that he was sad that "among those who, for various reasons are forced to leave their homeland, there are always dozens of children and young people alone, without their family and exposed to many dangers. In these days, I have learned of the dramatic situation of those who find themselves on the so-called 'Balkan route'.
The Pope added that he knew that vulnerable people could be found on all of the so-called migrant 'routes' to Europe. He asked for those listening to his prayers to "Let us ensure that these fragile and defenseless creatures do not lack proper care and preferential humanitarian channels."