ASIA/MYANMAR - Cardinal Bo: "On our knees for peace", as the humanitarian crisis worsens

Monday, 25 March 2024 human rights   easter   humanitarian assistance   humanitarian aid  

Yangon (Agenzia Fides) - "Let us unite in response to the resounding call for peace that emanates from the depths of Pope Francis's heart and echoes throughout our wounded world. Together, let us kneel in solidarity, imploring the Almighty to dispel the darkness of conflict and usher in a new dawn of hope and harmony", asks Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon and President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Myanmar, in the message released in view of Easter, entitled "Embracing the dawn of peace".
The Cardinal recalls the suffering of the Burmese people, caught up in the civil conflict for three years, after the military coup of February 2021: "In our fervent prayers, let us not overlook the anguished cries of the innocent, the tears of the oppressed, and the shattered dreams of those caught in the crossfire of strife especially our young people".
In the message sent to Fides, the Archbishop of Yangon invites us to reflect on the teachings of Jesus Christ, "who exemplified true strength through humble acts of service": "As he knelt before his disciples, washing their feet with profound love and humility", it is noted, "demonstrated that real power lies not in dominance, but in selfless devotion to others".
The text painfully takes note of the devastating toll of conflicts around the world, such as in Holy Land, Ukraine, Myanmar, urging us to "raise our voices in fervent prayer for peace" and justice, in order to stop "the turmoil of the war".
Humanity, the Cardinal underlines, should listen to Pope Francis' clarion call, "embracing dialogue and reconciliation as the foundations of our collective journey towards peace", cultivating "the flame of hope within our hearts, steadfast in our determination to eradicate the divisive forces of hatred and strife".
The appeal concludes with a gaze into the paschal mystery": "Faced with the conflicts and problems that the world experiences today, we must revive our hope by trusting in the Risen Christ, who conquered death and gave us true life. This hope generates light to life, overcomes discouragement, generates solidarity and counteracts all the seeds of violence that a culture of indifference and confrontation, sow in our societies and prepare the ground for wars".
"Together, let the world pledge to transform instruments of war into tools of peace, and all fears into unwavering trust. Let our words echo the universal language of fraternity, and may our actions be guided by the pursuit of peace", he hopes. Burmese Catholic communities are preparing to celebrate Easter 2024, while the civilian population lives in daily fear and the humanitarian crisis worsens. The number of internally displaced people is growing at an alarming rate: more than 2.6 million people across the country have fled their homes while overall 18.6 million people – around a third of the nation's total population – desperately need humanitarian assistance. Prices of food, fuel and other essential goods continue to rise, and a quarter of the population currently faces hunger and disease due to the collapse of the healthcare system.
The Myanmar army - note international organizations - severely limits the supply of humanitarian aid within the country and NGOs and humanitarian agencies are unable to reach people in need. Meanwhile, the "Humanitarian Response Plan for Myanmar" drawn up and released in 2023 by the United Nations received only about a third of the funding requested, leaving a funding gap of 600 million dollars: this means - notes the UN - that at least 1.9 million vulnerable people were unable to receive the aid they desperately needed. In this scenario, the crisis of the Muslim minority of the Rohingya ethnic group remains unresolved. Around 600,000 Rohingya are currently in Rakhine state, in western Myanmar, without basic rights such as citizenship, freedom of movement and access to essential resources and services. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 25/3/2024)