CASTELGANDOLFO, Italy — Pope Benedict XVI urged the international community on Sunday to move quickly to aid hundreds of thousands of people fleeing drought and famine in Somalia and elsewhere in the Horn of Africa.
He called it a "humanitarian catastrophe" that is "severely testing our brothers and sisters, among them many children."
Benedict issued his appeal after giving his weekly blessing to pilgrims at his summer residence in Castelgandolfo, in the Alban Hills south of Rome.
Aid agencies say the East African drought is one of the worst in years in terms of the number of people affected.
Thousands of Somali refugees are flooding camps in Ethiopia and Kenya in search of food after several seasons without rain decimated livestock and killed crops in their homeland.
Benedict said he was following the crisis "with deep worry" and that he hopes the international community will mobilize quickly.
"Our solidarity and the concrete support of all people of good will are not lacking," the pope said.