- Sep 20, 2020
Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, said it is important to remember that even if Aung San Suu Kyi’s perceptions of the Rohingya situation are incorrect, “her integrity and commitment are above suspicion…Her own lifetime sacrifice to resurrect from the ruins of junta misrule of sixty years is a great historic achievement,” the cardinal said. “In her fragile hands, she holds the dreams of millions of this country.”
Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario, the Archbishop of Dhaka, is planning on visiting a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh on Sunday, and said Caritas Bangladesh – the main tool for the Catholic Church’s humanitarian outreach in the country – is waiting for permission from the government to go to the area. Nearly half of Myanmar’s million Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh, after facing increased attacks from the military and Buddhist mobs.
Thousands of people from Myanmar are displaced within Thailand, many of them members of the Muslim-minority Rohingya population, faced with persecution by their government. Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovitvanit of Bangkok described the challenges and efforts made by the Thai Church to cater to their humanitarian and pastoral needs.
Although a small minority in the region, South Asia’s Catholic Church is responding to the Rohingya crisis with humanitarian assistance and advocacy. Hundreds of thousands of members of the Muslim minority have fled Buddhist majority Myanmar, where the military is conducting a “clearance operation.”
The U.N. Refugee Agency reports at least 300,000 Rohingya Muslims entered Bangladesh within two weeks of a military crackdown in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state, triggered by an August 25 Rohingya militant attack on security checkpoints. Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Myanmar from November 27 to 30, before heading to Bangladesh until December 2.
Though the detailed program hasn’t been made public yet, according to a Vatican statement announcing the trips, the dates will be Nov. 27-30 to Myanmar and Nov.30-Dec. 2 to Bangladesh. In Myanmar, the pope will visit the cities of Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw, while in Bangladesh only its capital, Dhaka.