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Pope Francis appeals for peaceful solution in Nagorno Karabakh

Pope Francis appeals for countries to silence their weapons and seek peaceful solutions in Nagorno Karabakh, as tensions flare in the South Caucasus region.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Pope Francis has appealed for arms to fall silent and for nations to seek peaceful solutions in Nagorno Karabakh.

In his remarks to Italian-speaking pilgrims at his Wednesday General Audience, the Pope expressed his concern for the humanitarian crisis in the Southern Caucasus region.

“Yesterday, I heard the disturbing news from Nagorno Karabakh, in the Southern Caucasus, where the already critical humanitarian situation is now aggravated by additional armed clashes,” said the Pope.

He urged involved parties to cease hostilities and seek peaceful solutions to the crisis.

“I address my appeal again to all the parties involved and to the International Community,” said Pope Francis, “so that they may stop using weapons and make every effort to find peaceful solutions for the good of the people and respect for human dignity.”

Situation in Nagorno Karabakh

Azerbaijan began a military operation in Nagorno Karabakh on Tuesday.

The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence announced the military operation, describing it as an “anti-terrorist” action against the ongoing attacks by Armenian forces and after a number of Azerbaijani civilians and policemen had died in a mine explosion in recent days.

According to various media, the Azerbaijani army has already bombed Stepanakert, the main city which is under Armenian control, and other Armenian positions.

Armenian authorities reported two civilian casualties, including a child, and 23 wounded. Azerbaijani authorities reported the death of a citizen in Shusha, an important city in the region, following an artillery attack.

Speaking at his General Audience, Pope Francis also recalled “martyred Ukraine”, and expressed his prayers for former President of the Italian Republic, President Giorgio Napolitano, who is seriously ill.

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