Churches become refuges for fleeing civilians

People displaced by fighting in northwestern Myanmar at a shelter in Chin state (CNS/Reuters)

Thousands of people have taken refuge in churches and convents as Myanmar’s military has continued to fight local resistance forces in the conflict-torn nation. Source: UCA News.

Catholic and other Christian churches have become the main refuge for thousands of people forced to flee from their homes during conflict in Kayah, Chin, Kachin and Shan states.

Churches and convents have opened their doors to fleeing civilians, especially the elderly, children, women, the sick and disabled, regardless of religion and race.

In Loikaw Diocese in Kayah state, thousands of people are still sheltering at churches and convents.

Fr Francis Soe Naing, chancellor of Loikaw Diocese, said displaced people have taken refuge in churches as they deem them to be safe. However, some people had to flee into the jungles when three churches were struck by military shelling.

“We are arranging a safe sanctuary for those who are in the jungles by building a temporary camp in the seminary in Loikaw,” Father Soe Naing said.

Three churches in Loikaw Diocese were struck by military shelling within two weeks, with a May 23 attack on Sacred Heart Church killing four people and wounding eight others despite white flags flying on top of the church.

In Pekhon Diocese, around 10,000 people are taking refuge in five churches despite four parishes in Mobye township having been totally abandoned due to intense fighting.

In impoverished Chin state in western Myanmar, thousands of people have fled into the jungles while others, mostly Christians, have taken refuge at churches.

Father Joseph Se Thang, parish priest of Sacred Heart Church in Mindat town, said around 120 people, mainly the elderly and women, were in the church compound after leaving the jungles. More than 1,200 people have taken refuge at churches in surrounding parishes where they have received shelter, food and medicines.


Churches become refuges for fleeing civilians in Myanmar (UCA News)

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