Caritas Thailand to help Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar

Caritas Thailand’s initiatives, in collaboration with the Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Services, include health support, nutrition and social development in various diocesan centres.

Thailand
Sep 11 2013, 6:12 PM
Caritas Thailand to help Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar
Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are seen on a boat while they try to get into Bangladesh.

Caritas Thailand volunteers have launched a number of assistance and relief programmes for Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in neighbouring Myanmar. With conditions for sea travel set to improve with the end of monsoons, Caritas Thailand expects the flow of refugees to resume.

Although Bangkok has termed the refugees as illegal immigrants, Catholic volunteers have been trying to assist the refugees.

Caritas Thailand secretary general Father Sriparasert said that the Rohingya conflict was a "burning issue for the Thai government and for all the nations of South East Asia."

Father Sriparasert said that more than 2,000 Rohingya were being held in different centres scattered throughout Thailand, in many cases deprived of basic rights guaranteed by the International Convention on Refugees. For example, women and children were sent to centres in the north, while the men to the fields in the south.

"They live in constant fear of attacksor being victims of human trafficking, violations and murders. Women and children are being traded by unscrupulous traffickers. They are living in degrading, inhuman and dangerous conditions," the priest said.

Caritas Thailand’s initiatives, in collaboration with the Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Services, include health support, nutrition and social development in various diocesan centres.

"Caritas volunteers do a commendable job," Father Sriparasert said, “providing psychological and medical support, working out of reception centres to restore dignity to refugees. Their actions strengthen our faith, invite us to love the poor, build peace and facilitate inter-faith dialogue.”

Fights between different ethnic and religious groups in Myanmar have raised tensions, especially in western Rakhine state where clashes had broken out between native Arakanese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims.

Rape and murder of a young Buddhist woman sparked a spiral of terror, leaving large-scale death and destruction in the last two years, and displacing over 160,000 people. Many have sought refuge outside Myanmar to escape attacks by the Buddhist extremist ‘969 Movement’.

United Nations estimates that there are at least 800,000 Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The Myanmar government considers them illegal immigrants and deny them constitutional rights.

Many refugees have sought asylum in Malaysia, which has a Muslim majority. Recent reports from India said that Rohingyas were infiltrating through its border with Bangladesh.

Source: AsiaNews

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