Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday condemned the "bloody clashes" and "atrocities" in the Democratic Republic of Congo and called for a return to peace.
"Worrying news continues to arrive from the Nord-Kivu region" in eastern Congo, the pontiff said during his weekly Angelus prayer in St Peter's Square.
"Bloody armed clashes and systematic atrocities have created and are still creating many victims among innocent civilians."
He spoke of the "destruction, pillaging and violence of all kinds that have led several tens of thousands of people to abandon the little they had to survive," adding that it was estimated that a million and half people had been displaced.
Benedict "launched a fervent appeal that all take part in the return to peace on this land so long a martyr, in the respect of law and above all the dignity of each person."
He made his remarks as UN sources reported renewed fighting today between rebels and government troops in the east of DR Congo, a day after a UN official accused rebels and pro-government militia there of war crimes.