The president of Caritas Internationalis, the global federation of national Catholic charities is calling on the international community to continue to help the displaced Muslim minority in Bangladesh.
Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle made the appeal after visiting a refugee camp for Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh who fled atrocities in Myanmar.
The 61-year old Archbishop of Manila kicked off his 2-day visit to Bangladesh on Dec. 3 by visiting refugee families, aid workers including Caritas staff and government officials in Cox's Bazar district in southeast Bangladesh.
The district accommodates more than one million Rohingya Muslims, most of whom fled deadly persecution in Myanmar's Rakhine State in 2016 and 2017.
Cardinal Tagle spoke to several families at Kutupalong refugee camp, the largest of the 30 refugee shelters in the district. He visited aid distribution points, child-friendly spaces and model houses set up by Caritas.
He then talked to aid workers and volunteers including those from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and also made a courtesy call on Muhammad Abul Kalam, head of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC), the main government body that oversees refugee and relief operations.
Joy and sadness
The visit has brought both joy and sadness for Cardinal Tagle, who has "seen news and footage of the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people" and his heart "bled for their suffering."
"Now, coming to the camp, a part of me rejoices that they are given the attention, especially the dignity, they deserve. But at the same
"I cannot imagine how parents would respond if their children asked them what is their future. If I had a child here, I would not know how to give an answer," he said.
Refugee couple Jahid Hossain and Rehena, both in their 30s, shared their story of pain and suffering
Caritas has been operating in Kutupalong camp since a new wave of Rohingya started arriving in August 2017.
It has so far spent about 750 million
The Joint Response Program of Caritas has focused on comprehensive support for the Rohingya, said James Gomes, regional director of Caritas Chittagong.
About 40,000 households or 240,000 refugees have benefited from Caritas food support, while 10,000 families have received non-food items and constructed more than 1,000 shelters, he said.
Caritas has also distributed gas cylinders and stoves to 20,000 families to reduce the need to cut trees for cooking, and it has given tree and vegetable saplings to more than 26,000 refugee families.
Expressing appreciation for Caritas Bangladesh, Cardinal Tagle said. “It really embodies what Caritas is all about.” Despite being very small, the cardinal said that Bangladesh Church’s charity and development arm is able to do its mission because of the collaboration of many other Caritas members. “This really gives me hope that if we come together we can make a difference," Cardinal Tagle added. (Source: UCANEWS)