VATICAN CITY — John Paul II will distribute, to victims of terrorism and war, the donations from the Day of Fasting and Prayer scheduled for Dec. 14.

The announcement was published in a statement by the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum,” which fosters and coordinates the charity work of Catholics worldwide.

When he proposed a day of fasting to Catholics last month, the Holy Father explained: “What one denies oneself by fasting can be made available to the poor, especially those who at present suffer the consequences of terrorism and war.”

“Cor Unum” said that, with this gesture, “the Pope wishes to embrace symbolically every man in need.”

Hence, the Bishop of Rome “appeals to all believers to make a concrete charitable gesture to carry hope and daily bread” to the needy.

“‘The donations collected will be allocated by the Pope on Christmas day to those victims, the consequences of terrorism and war, who run the risk of being forgotten, once the greatest emergency is over,” the “Cor Unum” statement concludes.

For this purpose, the Vatican has opened a special bank account, managed by “Cor Unum,” at:

Banca di Roma C/C N. 101010 “Pro Digiuno 14 Dicembre” ABI 3002 CAB 5008 (from abroad SWIFT: BROMIT)

All refugees have a right to humanitarian assistance, including those oppressed by their governments in their homeland, a Vatican aide told the United Nations.

Archbishop Renato Martino, permanent observer to the United Nations, voiced the Holy See's deep concern Nov. 30 for the prolonged fighting in Afghanistan and for 3.5 million Afghan refugees camped in Pakistan and Iran.

He stressed that people adrift and “trapped by war or persecution within state boundaries, need just as much help or possibly more than refugees.”

In the past the U.N. High Commission for Refugees has helped these people even though it has no explicit mandate to do so, he reminded a U.N. General Assembly commission on the question of refugees.

To alleviate the sufferings of people, forced to abandon their homes, there must be security and humanitarian aid: prime necessities without which “any refugee assistance program is senseless or counterproductive,” the archbishop said during his Nov. 20 address.