ROME — Pope Francis used his last Sunday Angelus address of 2015 to issue a call for a rapid response to the “humanitarian drama” facing US-bound Cuban migrants in Central America, calling on all the countries of the region to act.

“My thoughts go in this moment to the numerous Cuban migrants who find themselves in difficulty in Central America, many of whom are victims of human trafficking,” the pope said on Sunday.

“I invite all the countries of the region to renew, with generosity, all the efforts needed to find a rapid solution to this humanitarian drama,” he said.

The Red Cross warned on Thursday of a budding humanitarian crisis in Central America, as thousands of Cubans seeking to reach the United States find themselves blocked in border areas of Panama, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

Fearing that the normalization of relations with the United States may mean an end to a long-standing American policy of granting automatic refugee status to Cubans, thousands have attempted in recent months to enter the country through Central America.

An estimated 5,000 to 7,000 Cubans are presently in limbo, as Nicaragua has refused entry and Costa Rica has issued pleas to neighboring nations to help absorb the influx. Faced with refusals by the other countries, Costa Rica last week announced it would issue no other visas to arriving Cubans and threatened to deport them back to their homeland.

Among the migrants are pregnant women, and area hospitals and clinics have been struggling to treat Cubans suffering from diabetes, kidney failure, and high blood pressure. Others have reported injuries from blows they said they received in the first stage of their journey, through Ecuador and Colombia, to Panama.

Red Cross officials warned that makeshift refugee camps are struggling to accommodate the influx and are running low of basic items such as blankets and pillows.

Cuba has been a major preoccupation for Pope Francis, who was credited with helping to pave the way for the end of Cold War tensions between the island nation and the United States in December 2014.

Francis decided to begin his September outing to the United States with a three-day stop in Cuba, arriving on Sept. 19 under the motto of “messenger of mercy.” He visited Havana, the Cuban capital, where he celebrated a Mass in Revolution Square, along with stops in Holguín and Santiago.

The pontiff arrived amid signals of a gradual opening to the Catholic Church in the still officially Communist nation. In July, for the first time since its founding in 1965, the newspaper of record for the Cuban Communist Party agreed to reproduce in full a message from the local bishops’ conference regarding the papal visit.

Also for the first time in 60 years, the head of the local Church, Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, was permitted to go on national television before the visit to talk about issues that until recently had been considered taboo – political prisoners and, without mentioning the name of the group, the Ladies in White.

While in Cuba, Francis held a private meeting with 89-year-old former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, with the Vatican describing the encounter as “intimate and familial,” and later met President Raul Castro at the presidential palace.

In July, Raul Castro met Francis at the Vatican, and after the meeting declared that, “If the pope continues talking like this, I may return to the Church and start praying again,” insisting to startled reporters that “I am not joking.”

Francis’ comments on Sunday confirmed once again that for history’s first Latin American pontiff, Cuba is never very far from his thoughts.