Pope Francis has called on countries to take in refugees from Afghanistan, where the Taliban militant group has seized power after the fall of the internationally recognized government in Kabul.
The pope, in an apparent reference to the Taliban’s curtailment of girls’ education, also said he hoped “young Afghans receive an education, which is essential for human development.”
"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 on September 5.
"I pray that many countries welcome them and protect those who are seeking a new life,” he added.
The pope has been a strong advocate for the rights of refugees and migrants.
The United States and other NATO member states evacuated tens of thousands of Afghans at risk of Taliban reprisals from Kabul, during a frantic and deadly evacuation effort that ended on August 30.
But tens of thousands of other endangered Afghans were left behind. They along with thousands of others escaping a devastating humanitarian crisis, economic collapse, and the prospect of life under hard-line Taliban rule are pouring into neighboring Pakistan and Iran.
From Iran, some Afghans will pay smugglers to take them as far as Turkey and Western Europe.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that 2021 could see up to 1.5 million Afghans fleeing westward in search of safety and jobs.