Pope visits Ukrainian war refugee children in hospital in Rome

ROME, March 19 (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Saturday paid a surprise visit to young Ukrainian war refugees being treated at a pediatric hospital in Rome.

One of the images released by the Vatican showed the pope speaking to a girl with a fully bandaged head and what appeared to be a tube in her throat.

Nineteen Ukrainian children are currently being treated at the two branches of the Bambino Gesu hospital for cancer, neurological disorders or serious war injuries caused by explosions, the Vatican said. Around 50 Ukrainian children have been treated in hospital since the start of the war.

“The blood and tears of children, the suffering of women and men defending their land or fleeing bombardments shake our conscience,” Francis said in a message to a church conference in Slovakia on Friday.

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Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Christina Fincher

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