VATICAN CITY- Pope Francis on Sunday appealed to Myanmar's military leaders to allow aid to reach displaced, hungry people who have fled fighting since the Feb. 1 coup and to respect religious sites as places of sanctuary.
Speaking at his Sunday blessing to crowds in St. Peter's Square, Francis said he wanted to "add my voice" to an appeal last week by Myanmar's Catholic bishops.
The pope, who has made many appeals for the release of political prisoners in Myanmar, spoke of the "heartbreaking experience of thousands of people in that country who are displaced and are dying of hunger".
He backed the bishops' appeal to authorities to allow humanitarian corridors in order to get aid to displaced people and to respect churches, pagodas, monasteries, mosques, temples, schools and hospitals, as neutral places of refuge. The United Nations General Assembly on Friday called for a stop to the flow of arms to Myanmar and urged the military to respect November election results and release political detainees, including detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise) ((firstname.lastname@example.org;))