Iraqi Christians, who fled the violence in the northern city of Mosul after Islamic State (IS) group militants took control of the area, carry a wooden cross during a weekly prayer held at the Ashti camp in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on March 4, 2016. (Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images)
ROME (Reuters) - Pope Francis appealed to world leaders on Thursday to help end the crisis in northern Iraq after a sweeping advance by radical Islamic state militants forced thousands of residents of Iraq's biggest Christian town to flee their homes.
"His Holiness addresses an urgent appeal to the international community to take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now underway, to act to protect those affected or threatened by violence and to provide aid, especially for the most urgent needs of the many who have been forced to flee and who depend on the solidarity of others," the Vatican said in a statement.
(Reporting by James Mackenzie; Editing by Toby Chopra)