14:30 GMT20 April 2021
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    The head of the Catholic Church is holding Easter Sunday mass at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican.

    Pope Francis has described ongoing armed conflicts around the world during the COVID crisis as "scandalous", while calling for an end to the "clash of arms" in Syria, Libya and Yemen.

    "The pandemic is still spreading, while the social and economic crisis remains severe, especially for the poor. Nonetheless – and this is scandalous – armed conflicts have not ended and military arsenals are being strengthened," the head of the Catholic Church said. 

    "This is today's scandal," the Pope reiterated. 

    He also devoted some time to blast "insidious and horrible" anti-personnel landmines on what is International Awareness Day, saying that the world "would be without these instruments of death".

    Pope Francis speaks prior to delivering his Urbi et Orbi blessing after celebrating Easter Mass at St. Peter's Basilica at The Vatican Sunday, April 4, 2021, during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic
    © AP Photo / Filippo Monteforte
    Pope Francis speaks prior to delivering his Urbi et Orbi blessing after celebrating Easter Mass at St. Peter's Basilica at The Vatican Sunday, April 4, 2021, during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic

    Speaking to Roman Catholic followers in the Vatican on Sunday as part of the Easter holiday celebration, the Pope called for piece in African zones of conflict, including the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, in which an armed confrontation between the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian National Defense Forces has taken place since November 2020.

    Pope Francis also blasted the "deafening and scandalous silence" around the Yemen Civil War and praised "the young people of Myanmar committed to supporting democracy and making their voices heard peacefully" over the coup d'etat in the Southeast Asian nation.

    Hundreds of demonstrators have been killed in Myanmar since the military's overthrow of the government in the country, which took place on 1 February. 

    "There are still too many wars and too much violence in the world! May the Lord, who is our peace, help us to overcome the mindset of war," the Pope said from a stage of St. Peter's Basilica.

    The Vatican City State sovereign then urged the world to share its COVID vaccines with the "poorest" countries. 

    "I urge the entire international community, in a spirit of global responsibility, to commit to overcoming delays in the distribution of vaccines and to facilitate their distribution, especially in the poorest countries," the Pope went on. 

    Pope Francis praised healthcare workers who were at the forefront of the COVID-19 fight, but still called for the loosening of restrictions on freedom of worship and religion around the world, signalling that many Christians were still "persecuted" internationally. 

    Tags:
    Vatican City, Catholic Church, Pope Francis, Easter
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