Pope renews call for Easter truce in war-torn Ukraine

Pope Francis on Sunday appealed again for a truce in war-torn Ukraine over the Orthodox Easter weekend, “to ease the suffering of exhausted people.”

The blue and yellow flag of Ukraine flew among the faithful gathered on St Peter’s Square, where the leader of the Roman Catholic Church recalled that fighting erupted two months ago on February 24.

“Instead of halting, the war has become worse,” Francis said.

“It is sad that on these most holy and solemn days for Christians we hear more of the murderous noise of weapons than that of the bells announcing the resurrection” of Christ.

“I renew the appeal for an Easter truce, the smallest tangible sign of a willingness for peace,” he pleaded.

“Stop the attacks to ease the suffering of exhausted people,” the pope added, with both Russians and Ukrainians celebrating Orthodox Easter this Sunday.

UN Ukraine crisis coordinator Amin Awad called on Sunday for an “immediate stop” to fighting in Mariupol to allow the evacuation of trapped civilians in the battered port city almost all of which is now under Russian control.

On Palm Sunday, April 10, the pope had called for an Easter truce leading “to peace through veritable negotiations.”

On Thursday he backed UN secretary general Antonio Guterres’ own appeal for an end to the fighting.

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