ROME — Pope Francis prayed for those affected by the conflict in Ethiopia, appealing for “fraternity and solidarity so that the common desire for peace can be heard.”

At the end of his general audience talk at the Vatican Sept. 8, the pope marked the upcoming New Year’s Day celebrated in Ethiopia Sept. 11.

“I extend to the Ethiopian people my most cordial and heartfelt greetings, particularly to those who are suffering due to the ongoing conflict and the serious humanitarian situation it has caused. May this be a moment of fraternity and solidarity so that the common desire for peace can be heard,” he said.

Violence and the resulting humanitarian crisis continues to grip Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched an offensive against rebel forces in November. At the time, Ahmed said the fighting would be over in weeks, but the violence has been ongoing, leaving thousands of people dead and 2 million more displaced.

It is estimated that some 900,000 people are in famine conditions, and 5 million others are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

Even though the Catholic church in Ethiopia says its operations in the northern state of Tigray have been severely affected by the war and disruptions to needed services, Catholic agencies have been some of the biggest movers of aid in the region.