MANDALAY – Church authorities in the north of Myanmar are voicing concern over the safety of people fleeing clashes between government troops and ethnic Kachin rebels near the Chinese border.
The first priority is for parishes to coordinate their efforts and assist refugees in getting to safety; the second is providing aid to those coming to churches seeking help, a meeting between the bishop and Church officials in Banmaw diocese concluded on June 16.
“We’re urging parish priests to go among these people as we are the Good Shepherd and they need our physical presence among them,” Bishop Raymond Sumlut Gam of Banmaw said.
Fighting between government troops and the Kachin Independence Army broke out on June 9.
Refugees have sought shelter in churches in the villages of Laiza, Loije and Man Win, while others have fled across the Chinese border, according to Kachin sources.
Bishop Gam says the Church has supplies of food available at boarding schools should it be needed. The schools themselves have closed as a result of the fighting.
Concern is growing that the clashes may escalate into a full-scale war.
Meanwhile, the largest Kachin church in Myanmar, the Kachin Baptist Convention, has issued a statement urging members to pray for a resolution to the growing crisis in Kachin State.
“Many places are threatened, people are living under hard conditions and tensions are increasing everywhere,” the statement said. - UCANEWS.COM