Cox’s Bazaar (AsiaNews) – Bangladesh’s Caritas has been granted permission from Dhaka authorities to aid and feed Rohingya refugees in the south of the country. Bishop Gervas Rozario, president of the social arm of the Catholic Church in Bangladesh, asserts to AsiaNews: “With Caritas Internationalis’ economic support, we began distributing food to 70,000 people and will continue for the next two months.”
Over the past few weeks over 520,000 people from Myanmar came to Bangladesh. They flee escalating violence perpetrated by both the military and the rebels of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa). Among them, not only Muslims but also many Hindus. Sheikh Hasina’s government, after opening the borders, however, emphasized that the displaced will remain in the country only until the end of the emergency, and later return to their places of origin.
The bishop reports that Caritas Bangladesh volunteers are collaborating with World Food Program officials. The latter are engaged in the assignment of rice while the Church Association distributes lentils, sugar, salt and oil. It also prepares hot meals every day for 10,000 families, for a total of nearly 70,000 individuals.
Archbishop Rozario, who is also bishop of Rajshahi and vice president of the Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh, visited the refugee camp of Ukhiya in Cox’s Bazar district and describes the conditions in which displaced persons live. “Their situation is terrible – he says – especially with regard to women and children, the most vulnerable. They need food, essential goods, places to shelter, medicine. ” Many have seen relatives and friends killed in front of their eyes and cannot forget the horror of that violence. Like Sukina Begum, 35, who has witnessed the killing of her father-in-law and says, “We are grateful to Caritas for the support it is giving us.”
On the role of the Myanmar government in this humanitarian crisis, Msgr. Rozario believes it is “delaying discussions with the Bangladesh authorities. I think Aung San Suu Kyi is impotent in the face of the military government. Instead, to establish peace, there is a need for democracy. Only democracy is the door to peace. “
James Gomes, Caritas Regional Director at Chittagong, where Cox’z Bazaar is located, says he has been allowed to work for 60 days. “Then, if the concession is renewed, we will continue to bring some help. “