VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI met with the director of the World Food Program to learn about the humanitarian crisis developing on the border of Tunisia and Libya, said a statement distributed by the Vatican.
In a private audience March 2, the pope was briefed by Josette Sheeran, who, as head of the United Nations agency, had just returned from a trip to the area.
Thousands of people have fled Libya into neighboring Tunisia as forces loyal to Libyan dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi fight with protesters in the western and eastern parts of the country. Gadhafi's forces have been conducting aerial bombing raids in an effort to repress the protests against his regime, and some observers estimate 2,000 people have died since the protests began in late February.
In a WFP statement released by the Vatican, Sheeran said that the pope had asked her for the meeting in order to be informed and to "express his concern for the innocent people trapped in this terrible tragedy."