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Myanmar: prelate describes Kachin humanitarian crisis

Catholic World News - February 21, 2012

A bishop in Myanmar (Burma) has described the humanitarian crisis in his diocese amid fighting between Myanmar’s army and Kachin rebels.

“Now there are over 57,000 displaced people,” says Bishop Raymond Sumlut Gam of Banmaw. “The diocese is strongly influenced by the civil war and the people have fled to the cities and border areas.”

“Currently our Caritas takes care of 13,500 IDPs [internally displaced persons] in different camps,” he added. We offer schooling, clothes, food, medicine, education, support, pastoral care and spiritual assistance. But the displaced people in remote and border areas live in poor conditions … Respiratory diseases among children have broken out, but also dysentery, malaria, and tuberculosis, with a high risk of mortality.”

“Agricultural land around villages is scattered with landmines,” he continued. “A [Christian], crossing his field of sugarcane, due to the explosion of a mine, lost his leg and right arm. Therefore the refugees are afraid to resume a normal life, and their future is precarious.”

1.2% of the nation’s 54.0 million people are Catholic, according to Vatican statistics.

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