Mar 19, 2022 - World

Pope Francis visits Ukrainian children at Vatican hospital

Pope Francis looks on during an audience for the Choirs of Antoniano, on March 19, 2022 at Paul-VI hall in The Vatican

Pope Francis looks on during an audience for the Choirs of Antoniano on March 19 at Paul-VI hall in the Vatican. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis on Saturday visited Ukrainian children who fled the invasion and are being treated at the Vatican's pediatric hospital, AP reports.

Driving the news: The Bambino Gesu hospital is currently treating 19 refugees, and more than 50 have passed through since Russia's invasion.

  • Some of the children had oncological, neurological and other problems before the invasion and fled during the early days, but others are being treated for wounds sustained during the conflict, per AP.

The big picture: Francis has condemned Russia's invasion, saying the "unacceptable armed aggression" and "massacre" must stop, Reuters reports.

  • "Faced with the barbarity of killing of children, of innocents and unarmed civilians, no strategic reasons can hold up," Francis said.
  • An estimated 1.5 million children have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began, UNICEF said in a statement Saturday.

Go deeper: UNICEF urges stronger safeguards for Ukrainian child refugees

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