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ICC Note: The Holy See announced today that Pope Francis will visit Myanmar and Bangladesh this winter. The announcement of this landmark visit comes at a time when Rohingya Muslims are fleeing fresh fighting between the army and militants. Pope Francis has often shed light on the mistreatment of the Rohingya, an ethnic religious minority. This will be the first time a pope visits Myanmar. Issues of Rohingyas and church’s support for education are expected to be raised.

08/28/2017 (AFP) – Pope Francis will visit Myanmar and Bangladesh later this year, the Vatican announced Monday, hours after the Catholic leader decried the plight of Rohingya Muslims as they flee fresh fighting between the army and militants.

The landmark visit in late November and early December takes in Myanmar– a largely Buddhist country plagued by inter-religious fighting — and Muslim-majority Bangladesh which hosts hundreds of thousands of refugees from that conflict.

Francis has frequently lamented the treatment of the Rohingya, a largely stateless Muslim minority who have long lived under apartheid-like restrictions in the western Myanmar state of Rakhine.

Tens of thousands have fled to Bangladesh in recent months to escape fighting between Rohingya militants and Myanmar’s army — with particularly ferocious clashes erupting in the last few days.

Announced simultaneously on Monday in Rome, Yangon and Dhaka, the visit will see Pope Francis travel first to Myanmar on November 27 to 30, taking in Yangon and the capital Naypyidaw.

On November 30 he will travel to the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, leaving on December 2.

It is the first time a pope has travelled to Myanmar and only the second time a papal visit has been made to Bangladesh after Pope John Paul II’s trip there in 1986.

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