ROME

Pope Francis Friday called for international cooperation to ensure all people have access to vaccines and treatment amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In a traditional Christmas speech he delivered at the Apostolic Palace due to COVID-19 measures, Pope prayed: “May the Son of God renew in political and government leaders a spirit of international cooperation, starting with health care so that all will be ensured access to vaccines and treatment.”

“At this moment in history, marked by the ecological crisis and grave economic and social imbalances only worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, it is all the more important for us to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters,” he added.

Stressing that children pay a high price for war, especially in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, he said Christmas is a favorable time to ease tensions throughout the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean.

He also prayed for a heal to the wounds of the Syrian people, “who for a decade has been devastated by war and its consequences, now aggravated by the pandemic.”

“May he bring comfort to the Iraqi people and to all those involved in the work of reconciliation, and particularly to the Yazidis, sorely tried by these last years of war,” he said.

He prayed that peace may come to Libya and that Israelis and Palestinians regain mutual trust and seek a just and lasting peace through dialogue.

He also encouraged the people of Lebanon not to lose hope amid the difficulties they currently face.

Pope also urged the international community and the countries involved to continue the cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as in the eastern regions of Ukraine.

He also prayed for the people of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, who are suffering a humanitarian crisis, as well as calling an end to the violence in Ethiopia.

Speaking on natural disasters in Southeast Asia, especially in the Philippines and Vietnam, Pope also said: “As I think of Asia, I cannot forget the Rohingya people”, praying them to hope amid their sufferings.

*Writing and contribution by Iclal Turan in Ankara

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