Pope hopes countries will take in Afghan refugees

"In these moments of upheaval, in which Afghans are seeking refuge, I pray for the most vulnerable among them," he told hundreds of people in St. Peter's Square for his weekly blessing.

"I pray that many countries welcome them and protect those who are seeking a new life," said the pope, a strong supporter of the rights of refugees and migrants.

Thousands of evacuated Afghans are waiting in "transit hubs" in third countries such as Qatar, Germany and Italy. Thousands of others are trying to leave via land crossings with neighboring countries such as Pakistan.

"I also pray for the internally displaced so that they have help and necessary protection. May young Afghans receive an education, which is an essential good for human development," Francis said.

The pontiff also offered his prayers for the United States after Hurricane Ida killed dozens in Louisiana and north east states.

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