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Pope Francis calls for Gaza ceasefire, 'ensured' humanitarian aid in Easter address

Pope Francis called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the release of all Israeli hostages in an Easter Sunday address that marked the most important day on the Christian calendar by deploring the suffering caused by wars.

The pontiff presided over Mass in a packed and flower-bedecked St Peter's Square, and then delivered his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing and message from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

Francis, 87, has been in poor health in recent weeks, forcing him on repeated occasions to limit his public speaking and cancel engagements as he did on Good Friday, skipping at short notice a procession at Rome's Colosseum.

However, he took part in other Holy Week events leading up to Easter, and appeared in relatively good spirits on Sunday. Easter celebrates the day in which the faithful believe Jesus rose from the dead.

After the service, Francis took to his open-topped popemobile to greet crowds in the square and the avenue connecting St Peter's to the River Tiber. The Vatican said about 60,000 people had turned up.

'Why all this death?'

"I appeal once again that access to humanitarian aid be ensured to Gaza, and call once more for the prompt release of the hostages seized on last October 7 and for an immediate ceasefire in the Strip," he said in his Urbi et Orbi address.


Read more on FRANCE 24 English

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