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Pope Francis Urges Protection For Iraqi Christians As Exodus Continues

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POPE FRANCIS
Pope Francis attends a vigil service with youths from the dioceses of Germany, in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. | ASSOCIATED PRESS

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Francis is calling for world governments to take measures to protect Christians driven from their villages in northern Iraq and provide them with humanitarian aid.

The pope's second appeal in as many weeks came Thursday as Iraqi militants from the Islamic State group overran a cluster of predominantly Christian villages alongside the country's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, sending tens of thousands of civilians and Kurdish fighters fleeing.

In a statement, Francis appealed to the international community to "put an end to the humanitarian drama underway, adopt measures to protect those who are threatened by violence and assure them necessary aid, especially urgent for those who are homeless and depend on the solidarity of others."

Now-emptied Christian communities in the region date from the first centuries of Christianity.

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