PIME Foundation launches campaign to help displaced people in Myanmar
Heeding Pope Francis’s plea, an emergency fund has been set up to seek contributions. The peaceful protests organised after last year’s coup have given way to outright war. Soldiers recently razed two more villages to the ground. More than 400,000 people have become refugees in their own country. The local Church is concentrating its efforts on helping them.
Yangon (AsiaNews) – Myanmar’s military junta has razed two more villages in Sagaing region, forcing 10,000 people to flee.
The attack took place late last Monday, local residents told Radio Free Asia, when about a hundred soldiers destroyed more than 400 homes for allegedly sheltering anti-coup fighters.
For a resident of Mwe Tone village, “They acted like they would move on, but then they started burning homes,” which they repeated in the nearby village of Pan.
No one was able to take any belongings or return to their home in the following days. Those who did found only "a pile of ashes”.
The latest tragedy in Myanmar’s civil war follows a long series since the military ousted the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi on 1st February 2021.
After initial peaceful protests coordinated by the civil disobedience movement, Myanmar’s ethnic armies were reactivated, after being mostly on the sidelines in recent years when the country was making progress on the road to democracy.
They were joined in the spring of last year by the People's Defence Forces (PDF), the armed wing of the National Unity Government set up by exiled Members of Myanmar’s parliament. Since then, fighting has broken out across most of the country.
As visible in the map (picture 2) drawn up by military operations expert Thomas van Linge, the Myanmar military controls the country’s central region, while ethnic armies focus on the borders encircling government forces.
According to the UNHCR, the conflict has already displaced over 400,000 people, including most of the residents of Loikaw, the capital of Kayah State, which was bombed shortly before Christmas. The city is now a ghost town with at least 60,000 of its population of almost 70,000 sheltering in the nearby cities of Taungoo and Taunggyi or across the border in Thailand.
Faced with this situation, the PIME Foundation has set up the S145 Emergenza Myanmar Fund (in Italian) to help initiatives by local churches, many founded by PIME missionaries before the expulsion of foreign missionaries in 1966.
This follows yesterday’s plea by the Pope who said: “We cannot look away from the suffering of so many brothers and sisters” in Myanmar.
The goal of the campaign is to provide immediate help to thousands of people through the relief network the dioceses of Taungoo and Taunggyi are putting in place.
Many local religious groups have responded to the emergency and in doing so are showing the most beautiful face of Myanmar, that of a people who, despite the suffering that has marked its history, choose the path of solidarity.
Aid will be sent to them, starting with basic needs: shelter, food, and a school for children deprived of an education for the past two years because of the pandemic and the war.
Donations can be made out to S145–Emergenza Myanmar:
- directly online at this link (in Italian) choosing S145–Emergenza Myanmar among the projects (progetti);
- by bank transfer payable to Fondazione Pime Onlus IBAN: IT 11 W 05216 01630 000000005733 (it is recommended that a copy of the transfer be sent by email to email@example.com indicating name, address, place and date of birth, plus fiscal code if in Italy or equivalent social insurance number in other countries)
- to the postal current account n. 39208202 made out to Fondazione Pime Onlus via Monte Rosa, 81 20149 Milan
- in cash or check by going in person to the Centro PIME in Milan, via Monte Rosa 81 – business hours Monday to Friday: from 9 am to 12.30 pm and 1.30 pm to 5.30 pm)