A COALITION of Methodist aid agencies from around the world has launched a fresh appeal to support their humanitarian relief efforts for Rohingya refugees from violence in Myanmar.
Agencies from Britain, the United States, Ireland, and Australia have released a joint statement calling on Christians to be “fervent in prayer and to give generously and quickly to this humanitarian crisis”.
More than half a million Rohingya people from northern Rakhine state have crossed into Bangladesh since the latest surge of violence and state persecution began in August (News, 6 October).
Although Bangladesh has left its borders open to allow the refugees to seek sanctuary, many of the Rohingya have no shelter, clean water, adequate food supplies, or medical care.
“We believe there is an imperative at this time for individuals, churches, and groups around the world to draw together collectively to respond to this crisis,” the joint statement said.
Médecins Sans Frontières has reported that dozens of young Rohingya refugees have been sexually assaulted or raped while living in camps on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. Half of those who have been cared for by the charity’s sexual assault clinic in Kutupalong, were under 18, including one girl who was just nine years old.
The UN has described Myanmar’s military operations in Rakhine State, which have prompted the exodus, as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”, but this is denied by the Myanmar government, which insists that it is targeting Rohingya rebel groups.
The Rohingya, which amounted to about one million people at the start of 2017, are a Muslim minority with a distinct language and culture. The Myanmar authorities deny them citizenship and refuse to recognise them as a legitimate part of the Burmese nation.
Donations towards the joint Methodist appeal can be given at www.allwecan.org.uk/rohingya.