The pontiff will visit Bangladesh from 30 November to 2 December. "The pope expressed the desire to come two years ago, when the refugee crisis had not broken out." Over 620,000 Muslims have fled the Rakhine State in Myanmar.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Although the issue of Rohingya Muslim refugees is the most contentious issue in recent weeks, "the principal aim of Pope Francis’ visit to Dhaka is not the Rohingya" says Card. Patrick D'Rozario, Archbishop of Dhaka, intervening on November 21 at a press conference with about 50 journalists from various broadcasters. "I want to thank you - he says - for the media coverage you are giving to this great event, and I hope you will continue to talk about it in the future."
The meeting took place at the Archbishopric in the Ramna District (Dhaka), where Pope Francis video message for the trip was screened. The cardinal presented the pastoral program for the trip, which will be held from 30 November to 2 December, to the local press. Responding to a journalist who asked if the Pope would intervene "against the persecution of the Rohingya, forced to escape from Myanmar", Card. D'Rozario remembers: "Pope Francis expressed the desire to come to Bangladesh two years ago. At that time, the story of the Rohingya, which has been the focus of attention for a few months, had not broken out. His visit is not related to them. "
Despite this, he adds, "we expect the Holy Father to talk about the situation of Muslim refugees. He has already expressed compassion towards them. If Pope Francis speaks, his words will be spread all over the world. The international community will give it importance. "
According to local media, since August 25 more than 620,000 Rakhine state refugees have crossed the border with Bangladesh in an attempt to escape the violence committed by both sides, the army and militants of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). These refugees are added to 200,000 more people who also fled from Myanmar in recent years.
The same Cardinal took up the plight of the refugees issuing a letter-appeal at the end of September, inviting the whole world to listen to "the cry of the suffering Rohingya." Later, the cardinal went to a refugee camp where he confirmed the humanitarian support of the Church through Caritas Bangladesh volunteers, who distribute food daily to some 70,000 refugees.
Meanwhile in the Ukhiya camp at Cox's Bazaar, some refugees report "great expectations for the visit of the pontiff, that he may find a solution for us. Pope Francis is a world leader. Hopefully, he will talk about us when visiting Myanmar and Bangladesh and help solve our problems. We want to return to our home country. " Another Rohingya adds, "I ask with all my strength that the Pope put pressure on Myanmar to end the persecution in Rakhine State. I hope he will be a peace envouy. The Burmese government will listen to his words. "
Card. D'Rozario asks journalists to cover the appointments of Pope Francis as much as possible, "so that all the people can hear his message." To another journalist who asked if the Pope would address the problems of minorities, often victims of violence committed by the [Muslim] majority, the Cardinal replied: "Pope Francis always speaks against injustices. He comes to support harmony. "