Pope Francis has voiced great concern over a fresh outbreak of sectarian violence which has left many killed and thousands displaced in the Central African Republic (CAR), Fides reports.

“The painful events that have worsened an already delicate situation in the Central African Republic in recent days are of great concern. I appeal to all those involved to put an end to this cycle of violence,” said the pontiff, who is due to visit CAR Nov. 29-30.

The CAR has gradually recovered from the two-and-a-half-year crisis which ravaged the country, but an outbreak of violence in the capital, Bangui, in late September has left scores killed, hundreds injured and 40,000 people displaced.

Pope Francis also expressed his solidarity with the Central African Republic, while calling for calm and reconciliation: “I reiterate my closeness to the afflicted and tormented nation and urge all Central Africans to be witnesses of mercy and to work for reconciliation.”

On Sunday, Nov. 1, thousands of young people gathered at the Omnisport Stadium in Bangui, where they committed themselves to pray for the nation for two months, local sources told World Watch Monitor.

Meanwhile a delegation of church leaders has expressed their concerns to the Special Representative of the UN General Secretary over the upsurge of violence in Bangui. Many have accused the UN and French troops of inertia, demanding the restoration of the national armed forces to enable them to protect the country from inter-communal violence.