MYANMAR: Salesian Missionaries Continue to Provide Shelter and Assistance to Those Displaced by Recent Violence
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in the town of Namtu in the northeastern Shan State in Myanmar continue to provide shelter and assistance to 120 people, mostly women and children, displaced by recent clashes between the Rohingya, a persecuted Muslim population, and Myanmar’s security forces. Frightened by the clashes, Salesian missionaries initially sheltered 160 people, including 50 children, when the violence first occurred in November 2016, but the numbers have since decreased as some returned back home.
The local village of Bang Wa suffered severe damage with houses and crops burned. People who were defenseless and feared for their lives left their homes to take shelter at the local Salesian parish. The Salesian community was faced with the unexpected arrival of people in need of food and shelter. Some had been wounded in the clashes and needed medical care and almost all, especially the children, were frightened and traumatized by shooting and explosions. The clashes interrupted the harvest season in the village and many crops were burned and left unattended, affecting the food security for the community.
“While in many parts of the world Christmas was being celebrated, we lived in anxiety and fear because of the clashes. We are hoping that peace will be returned to our communities,” said a local Salesian priest reporting from Bang Wa.
Many still remain sheltered at the Salesian parish because their homes were destroyed or they still fear for their safety. Even though many houses have been destroyed by bombs and grenades, the Salesian community is grateful that the local chapel in the village was spared.
“Because Salesian missionaries live within the communities they serve, they are perfectly positioned to respond in times of crisis,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Our programs are helping to provide food, clothing and shelter to those in need and our missionaries will remain through the long recovery process helping the many families who will be forced to rebuild their homes and salvage their livelihoods.”
According to the World Bank, while Myanmar is the second largest country in Southeast Asia and rich in natural resources, it is one of the least developed countries in the world, ranking 148 out of 188 countries according to the 2015 Human Development Report. More than a quarter of Myanmar’s population still live in poverty with the poverty rate rising sharply to 70 percent for those living in rural areas. Myanmar also has the lowest life expectancy and the second-highest rate of infant and child mortality in the region. Just one-third of the population has access to the electricity grid, and only about half of school age children complete their primary education.
New York Times – Violence Escalates between Myanmar Forces and Rohingya
World Bank – Myanmar