VATICAN CITY, Nov 26, (AFP): The top Catholic official in Bangladesh hopes Pope Francis’s visit there and to Myanmar will bolster moves to alleviate the Rohingya refugee crisis that has put the neighbouring nations in the global spotlight.
Despite last week’s deal to return to Myanmar some of the hundreds of thousands of people housed in the world’s largest refugee camp, on the Bangladesh side of the border, Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario warns that the situation remains both explosive and tough to resolve. “I am hopeful the Rohingya can be returned to Myanmar,” D’Rozario, the Archbishop of Dhaka, told AFP in an interview ahead of Francis’s visit. “The international community wants it and the Holy Father’s visit will prepare the minds and hearts of many,” he said.
The UN’s refugee agency has said the conditions for a safe return of Rohingya to Myanmar’s Rakhine state are not in place and Bangladesh indicated Saturday that the plan was for them to be housed in temporary shelters initially.
Despite the difficult backdrop, D’Rozario is looking forward to the visit of the pontiff who made him a cardinal in 2016, in a first for Bangladesh and its tiny community of 360,000 Catholics. Francis arrives in Myanmar on Monday and will fl y Thursday to Bangladesh. His schedule does not include a visit to the vast refugee camp but he is due to meet with a small group of Rohingya in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital.