ROME — Pope Francis called on world leaders to aid people suffering in war-torn countries, especially in Myanmar and Ukraine.

After praying the Angelus prayer with pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square June 19, the pope lamented the suffering of the people of Myanmar “who lack basic humanitarian assistance and who are forced to leave their homes that have been burnt down and to flee violence.”

“I join the appeal of the bishops of that beloved land, that the international community does not forget the Burmese people, that human dignity and the right to life be respected, as well as places of worship, hospitals and schools,” he said.

The country’s bishops released a statement demanding respect for human life and places of worship. According to, Myanmar’s military junta has targeted and destroyed dozens of churches in military airstrikes since the February 2021 military coup began.

Villages also have been targeted, causing thousands of men, women and children to flee into neighboring India, the report said.

In their statement, the bishops of Myanmar said they supported “justice, peace and reconciliation” and urged “all concerned to facilitate humanitarian access to suffering and internally displaced people in order to provide them the basic humanitarian assistance.”

Pope Francis also called on pilgrims not to forget the people of Ukraine who continue to suffer following Russia’s invasion of the country in late February.

As of June 20, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said an estimated 4,569 men, women and children have been killed in Ukraine. However, due to lack of information in some areas, the office said it believed “that the actual figures are considerably higher.”

The pope called on Christians to ask themselves what they are doing to help alleviate the suffering of those in Ukraine.

“I would like you all to keep in mind a question: What am I doing today for the Ukrainian people? Do I pray? Am I doing something? Am I trying to understand? What am I doing today for the Ukrainian people? Each one of you, answer in your own heart,” the pope said.