Rohingya crisis top of pope’s agenda during upcoming visit

(UCAN) As the refugee crisis of ethnic Muslim Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh rapidly escalates, church officials say the crisis will be part of the top items of the agenda when Pope Francis visits Myanmar and Bangladesh later this year.

Church officials believe it is unlikely to overshadow the trip, despite global media strongly connecting the visit with the crisis of the Muslim minority group of some 1.3 million, close to half of whom may have fled from their homeland in Myanmar’s Rakhine State to neighboring Bangladesh. Latest reports say some 123,000 people fled in just 12 days.

Officials spoke with about the pope’s upcoming trip as Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi chose to ignore the Rohingya and focus on terrorist violence.

Suu Kyi denied multiple reports from aid organizations that the Myanmar military was wiping out villages and killing people. She denied that what was occurring was a campaign of ethnic cleansing.

“I think ethnic cleansing is too strong a term,” Suu Kyi told the BBC.

Several Nobel Prize laureates including Pakistan’s Malala Yusafzai and Muslim-majority countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Turkey, Malaysia, Maldives and Iran have strongly condemned the violence and criticized Suu Kyi for failing to curb the violence. [More]