Pope Francis on New Year’s Day called upon global leaders to offer more assistance to migrants and refugees in 2018.

“Migrants and refugees: men and women seeking peace, this is the motto of this day,” he said.

As reported by CNN, Francis made the appeal before an estimated 40,000 devotees during his Angelus address on January 1 in St. Peters Square. The first day of the year been designated as World Peace Day by the Catholic Church.

“Please do not extinguish the hope in their hearts; we do not suffocate their peace expectations! It is important that everyone, civil institutions, educational, welfare and ecclesial realities are committed to ensuring refugees, migrants and everyone a future of peace,” the Pope said.

Last year, Francis visited Myanmar and Bangladesh where the plight of minority Rohingya Muslims has garnered international condemnation amid allegations of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar’s southern western Rakhine state. More than 620,000 Rohingya have become refugees since violence broke out last August.