The World Council of Churches (WCC) on 14 September expressed its concern over the worsening situation of the Rohingya people in Myanmar.
According to the UN and media reports, an estimated 379,000 Rohingya have fled across the border into Bangladesh in recent weeks amid a spate of attacks on their villages. Some reports suggest as many as 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the latest outbreak of violence which began on 25 August.
“As churches, we recognize and affirm the God-given human dignity of every human being, and are especially committed to lifting up the voices of the voiceless and most vulnerable,” said WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit. “The Rohingya are widely considered to be among the world’s most persecuted and vulnerable people.”
The Rohingya constitute one of the largest populations of stateless people because they are not recognized as nationals by any country. The UNHCR estimates that more than one million people in Myanmar’s Rakhine state are stateless on the basis of the current citizenship law, which finds only members of certain ethnic groups – excluding Rohingyas – eligible for citizenship.
“We are particularly concerned about the humanitarian situation of the affected people in Rakhine state and of those who have fled as refugees to Bangladesh,” added Tveit. “We call for an end to the violence and destruction that have caused this displacement, so that people can stay safely in their own homes and communities without fear of reprisals and persecution based on their ethnic or religious identity.”
The WCC is also appealing for all refugees to be received and cared for appropriately.
“We recognize and appreciate the refuge already afforded to the displaced people by the government and communities of Bangladesh, and call for the international community to provide all needed support, until the refugees are able to return to their homes and communities in conditions of safety and dignity,” concluded Tveit.