Dhaka, Bangladesh, Nov. 28, 2017 – As Pope Francis continues his visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh this week, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) welcomes the Holy Father using his platform to shine a spotlight on one of the biggest humanitarian crises today and to draw attention to the magnitude of humanitarian need and urgency.
For many families in Myanmar's Rakhine state and for those who have fled to Bangladesh, options for the future remain uncertain, with their most basic human needs pressing.
The return of refugees to Myanmar should only be encouraged if such returns are safe, voluntary, and to the place of origin. Therefore, the need is urgent to prepare for protracted displacement, especially as this influx of refugees puts an immense strain on local infrastructure and services in Bangladesh. We must also consider ways to support the local host communities that have so generously welcomed these uprooted families.
We hope the humanitarian call of Pope Francis will resonate within Myanmar and Bangladesh, as well as across the global Church and humanitarian community, so that we can collectively respond to people's urgent needs with dignified relief, care, justice and hope.
Deepti Pant, CRS country manager, says "families are arriving hungry, exhausted and depleted of any resources. Many have lost loved ones, including children, in the violence. Their escape often involved fleeing a direct attack, watching their houses burn, hiding in the brush as they walked over several days, going without food, and crossing streams filled with bodies. The human needs-emotional and physical-are immense, and we hope that the Holy Father's message of solidarity and humanity can reach across any divide, and ignite greater understanding, dialogue, justice and peace."
CRS supports Caritas Bangladesh with the emergency response across camps in Cox's Bazar. Emergency support includes food and kitchen supplies for 10,000 families—nearly 70,000 people. Ongoing assistance also includes emergency shelter, living supplies, water and sanitation, protection services, and potentially design and infrastructure support for new camps.
Catholic Relief Services, 228 W. Lexington St., Baltimore, MD 21201, United States