Pope Francis announces special collection for Ukraine

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has announced a special collection to help people in Ukraine suffering amid conflict "who thirst for peace and reconciliation."

The pontiff told the faithful Sunday following a Holy Year Mass that Roman Catholic parishes in Europe will hold a special collection on April 24 as a "humanitarian initiative of support," noting that the elderly and children were the most impacted by the violence in eastern Ukraine.

Fighting between Russia-backed separatists and government troops in eastern Ukraine has killed more than 9,100 people since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

Francis also noted that Monday is the international day against land mines, saying "too many people are killed or mutilated by these terrible weapons, while brave women and men are risking their lives to clear land mines."