A delegation from the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences visited the Ukhiya refugee camp, where they listened to the stories of the displaced whose sense of joy, despite everything, should be spread around the world. The visit was also a chance to promote environmental protection.
Cox's Bazaar (AsiaNews) – A delegation from the Office of Human Development (OHD) of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) visited Cox’s Bazar, the largest refugee area in the world with at least 750,000 Rohingya.
The visit took place between 11 and 17 February, ending with the delegation issuing an official statement urging the international community to find a diplomatic solution to the ongoing refugee crises around Asia. Its goal was to meet migrants, listen to their stories, and assess options for renewable energy in Asia.
The group was led by Card Patrick D'Rozario, archbishop of Dhaka and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh, and by the Vatican envoy Mgr George Kocherry. The other members came from 11 countries, and included Francis Atul Sarker, executive director of Caritas Bangladesh; James Gomes, regional director of Caritas in Chattogram (Chittagong]; and Naoko Maruyama, regional coordinator for Asia of the Section for migrants and the refugees of the Holy See.
Card D'Rozario expressed his appreciation for the work done by Caritas Bangladesh, especially for the protection of displaced children. In the Ukhiya camp alone, the Catholic charity set up ten child-friendly spaces.
For Mgr Gervas Rozario, head of the Justice and Peace Commission of the catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh, “It is commendable to see how the team is working so hard to make a sustainable and dignified living for the Rohingyas even though the government is taking it as a temporary project.”
Indeed, “If we look into the past when the Rohingyas first entered Bangladesh, they were very aggressive and scared. But now as development is taking process, they are becoming much more open to new ideas of living.”
For his part, Archbishop George Kocherry, apostolic nuncio to Bangladesh, noted that “Pope Francis has a great concern for the refugees”. After visiting the camp, he said that "We should spread the joy of these people to the world instead of telling their sorrows all the time. See their happiness and tell this good news”.
The archbishop of Dhaka thanked the government of Bangladesh for their generosity, open heart and support for refugees.
Lastly, the visit provided an opportunity to thank Caritas, which has created dignified conditions for refugees over the past year and half, whilst respecting the environment. As such, this could stimulate the development of renewable energies like biofuels.
(Nirmala Carvalho contributed this article)