At least one million refugees live in camps on the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh in unsustainable conditions. The Archbishop of Yangon admires the people and government of Bangladesh for their compassion and their participation in “the pilgrimage of peace".
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Cardinals Charles Maung Bo (Myanmar) and Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle (Philippines) travelled to Bangladesh to closely observe the progress and developments of the Rohingya humanitarian crisis.
During the visit, which began last Sunday and ended yesterday, the two prelates met refugees, senior Bangladeshi officials, human development organisations and local Church leaders.
However, at least one million refugees live in various camps in Cox’s Bazar, a district in Bangladesh on the border between the two countries, after fleeing various waves of sectarian violence.
In November 2017 Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to a gradual " safe, dignified, voluntary and sustainable" return of the displaced people to Myanmar, but red tape and Rohingya fears have slowed down the process. Meanwhile, living conditions in the camps have become unsustainable.
James Gomes, regional director of Caritas Chattogram, told AsiaNews that Card Bo, archbishop of Yangon and president of the Federation of Asia Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), together with Card Tagle, archbishop of Manila and head of Caritas Internationalis (CI), wanted to evaluate the latest developments in the field.
On Monday, the prelates and their aides visited the Kutupalong refugee camp, one of the most crowded in Cox’s Bazar. Here, the two “saw the activity by Caritas and other development organisations in refugee camps.”
Card Bo “talked with about 20 Rohingya refugees. He asked them if they want to return to Myanmar. Rohingya replied yes. The cardinals were happy with the work carried out by different NGOs.”
In Kutupalong, the two cardinals were accompanied by Mgr Gervas Rozario, bishop of Rajshahi and president of Caritas Bangladesh, who said: "We had a very successful discussion today about the Rohingya refugees with Bangladesh’s Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC), followed by a meeting with the presidents of the CI and FABC.”
RRRC chief Muhammad Abul Kalam thanked them for the visit and for the humanitarian commitment of the Catholic Church.
Last night, on the last day of the visit, Card Bo celebrated Mass at Tejgaon church in Dhaka, the biggest in the whole country. More than a thousand people took part in the service.
In the homily, the archbishop of Yangon expressed admiration for how “The people and government of Bangladesh showed compassion to Rohingya refugees. I admire them.”
In a direct address, he said: “You have taken part to the pilgrimage of peace. I call on the whole Asian Church to be a prophet of peace.”