06/25/2021 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – After weeks of intense fighting between the Burmese army and the local fighters belonging to the “Chinland Defense Forces” (CDF), there is now a truce in the majority-Christian Chin state. Fr. Timothy Shing, a local Catholic priest from the village of Mindat in Chin state, confirmed the ceasefire to Catholic news source Agenzia Fides.
“The army and resistance groups have agreed to a ceasefire, to allow civilians to return to their homes and allow the wounded and sick to be transported and treated in public hospitals,” said Fr. Timothy Shing. However, “the Burmese army does not allow non-governmental organizations and other entities to bring humanitarian aid. And the civilians who have chosen to return to their homes represent only 20% of the displaced persons so far, as they still fear for their safety and survival,” he added.
Catholic priests, church leaders, and Christian laypeople have been on the frontlines of assisting those displaced by the fighting. Priests at the local parish in Mindat have been issuing appeals to end the conflict, emphasizing that “many innocent people are suffering and are desperate” and have asked for international help.
Pope Francis added his voice to the chorus of appeals. In a speech made on June 20, Pope Francis emphasized the “heartbreaking experience” of the population, who are displaced, frightened, and close to famine.
He asked to protect the humanitarian corridors in the conflict areas, respect the sacredness of places of worship, and safeguard civilians’ safety, especially the elderly and children. “May the Heart of Christ touch the hearts of everyone, bringing peace to Myanmar!” concluded Pope Francis.
In addition to inciting violence against civilians and the local fighters, the Burmese army has been blocking the flow of humanitarian aid to internally displaced people. However, with the establishment of the ceasefire, hope for greater access to humanitarian assistance increased among religious leaders and civilians.
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