Paul John Paul II made a powerful appeal for understanding and aid for the world's refugees, when he addressed the crowds in St Peter's Square on Sunday. Reminding them that today (Wednesday) is World Refugee Day, the Pope said the initiative underlined the solidarity owed to millions of people who live in the difficult situation of refugees and fugitives. He said: "Unfortunately, this plague has grown in recent years . Therefore, the need increases for international protection, but the number of countries that tend to limit it also increases." "While I desire that the causes of forced migrations be removed everywhere, I appeal for renewed efforts so that refugees will never be deprived of just understanding and necessary assistance," he concluded. Currently the UN estimates there are around 22 million refugees worldwide. Armed conflicts are the principal cause of their displacement. In Africa alone there are more than 7 million refugees. In 1969 there were 750,000.
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