Pope Benedict XVI calls Sri Lanka to ensure security civilians

Pope Benedict XVI has called for the warring sides in Sri Lanka to ensure security for evacuating civilians and for aid groups to get them the food and medicine they urgently need.

In his weekly Sunday blessing, Benedict said he was spiritually close to all Sri Lankans and was praying for peace and reconciliation in the island nation.

"There are thousands of children, women, old people for whom the war has taken years of their lives and hope," Benedict said.

Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels admitted defeat on Sunday in their 25-year civil war with the government, promising to lay down their arms.

Benedict said the aid groups should "leave no stone unturned" as they care for the thousands of civilians who fled the waning battles between the government and rebels.

He said he was adding his voice to that of the UN Security Council, which last week demanded that civilians be allowed to leave the war zone.

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