From Bangladesh, Pope Francis launched an appeal for the refugees of the state of Arakan (Rakhine) in Burma on November 30, 2017. Recalling the situation of the “Rohingya” persecuted minority, without, however, pronouncing the word, he appealed to the International Community to take “decisive measures” to resolve the “grave crisis” underway.
On the first day of his visit to Bangladesh, a few hours after landing, the Holy Father went to the Presidential Palace of Dhaka, where he met with the country’s Authorities, with representatives of the civil society and of the Diplomatic Corps.
He pleaded, before them, for the cause of the Rohingyas, without mentioning them. In fact, the name of these Bengali-speaking Sunni Muslims, who live in the northwest of this State, is very controversial. The Burmese Government has prohibited its use and has also asked the Diplomatic Community not to use it.
The Pope greeted Bangladesh’s gestures in their favor. “In the course of the last months, the spirit of generosity and solidarity, characteristic signs of Bangladesh’s society, has been observed very vividly in its humanitarian momentum in favor of refugees that have arrived en masse from Rakhine state, giving them temporary shelter and satisfying their elementary needs to live. This result was obtained with many sacrifices. It was also done before the eyes of the whole world.”
“No one of us can fail to be conscious of the gravity of the situation, the immense cost imposed by human sufferings and the very numerous precarious conditions of life of our brothers and sisters, the majority of whom are women and children, gathered in refugee camps,” stressed the Pope.
He appealed to the International Community “to take decisive measures in face of this grave crisis, not only by working to resolve the political questions that have led to this massive displacement of people but also by offering immediate material assistance to Bangladesh, in its effort to respond effectively to the urgent human needs.”
In his address to the Burmese Authorities, two days earlier, the Pope pleaded for “a peace founded on respect for the dignity and the rights of every member of the society, on respect for all the ethnic groups and their identity, on respect for the State of Law and a democratic order that enables each individual and every group – no one being excluded – to offer their legitimate contribution to the common good.”
Translation by Virginia M. Forrester