ASIA/BANGLADESH - Rohingya: the Pope's closeness, but the future is uncertain

Friday, 1 December 2017 human rights   religious minorities   ethnic minorities   pope francis   violence   pastoral visit   refugees   politics  

Cox's Bazar (Agenzia Fides) - "The return of the Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh to Rakhine state, in Myanmar seems very difficult, if not impossible. There are too many economic interests on that territory, both with India and with China. It seems that economy and money count more than human beings": says to Agenzia Fides Alberto Quattrucci of the Community of Sant'Egidio, who is in Bangladesh to start humanitarian operations in favor of the Rohingya, and reached Cox's Bazar, a border town where there are over 600,000 refugees, cramped, from Mynamar.
"The current condition is really dramatic (lack of water, food, medicine, clothes and blankets) - notes Quattrucci - and this is without a doubt the first urgent intervention; then there is the problem of darkness on the future. The reception in Bangladesh, even positive, seems a rather temporary fact. I think it would be important to support and strengthen it", thinking of the integration that "even for the commonality of the language, is possible", he notes.
"I then have the impression - he continues - that the Rohingya issue may constitute for the weak, fragmented and poor Bangladesh, a chance for general development for the country, at a local structure level. In fact, the great quantity of international economic aid that is coming from abroad must be considered".
The humanitarian emergency remains: "For the time being it seems necessary to focus on basic aid, but at the same time it is important to look to the future, especially for the over 300,000 children who survive in the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar area. It would be important to think of an educational project for them such as Nutritional Centers and Schools of Peace. We need to involve the European Union and UNICEF".
The Rohingya situation was mentioned by Bangladesh president Abdul Hamid who, during his meeting with Pope Francis, on his second day of visit to the country, said: "Our government has given shelter to a million Rohingya who have been forced to leave their ancient homeland in the State of Rakhine in Myanmar. Thousands of them, including women and children, have been brutally murdered and women raped", recalling that the Pope's appeal "to rescue them and assure them full rights empowers the international community to act promptly".
Pope Francis thanked Bangladesh for "the spirit of generosity and solidarity that characterizes society" and that "manifested itself very clearly in its humanitarian momentum for refugees", he added. "None of us can fail to be aware of the immense cost of human suffering and the precarious living conditions of so many of our brothers and sisters, the majority of whom are women and children, cramped in refugee camps. It is necessary for the international community to implement effective measures against this serious crisis, not only by working to resolve the political issues that led to the massive displacement of people, but also by providing immediate material assistance to Bangladesh in its effort to effectively respond to urgent human needs".
In addition, the local Church announced that this evening, December 1, the Pope will meets 18 Rohingya refugees, members of three families from Cox's Bazar, where many NGOs are working for humanitarian assistance, in the courtyard of the Archdiocese of Dhaka. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 1/12/2017)

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