Photo by Reuters
USA (MNN) ― Desperate refugees who fled the repression of Myanmar's junta regime often fled to Malaysia. However, Bethany Christians Services' Kristin Meyer says the government in Malaysia doesn't recognize refugees and has been pursuing them as undocumented persons.
In fact, for the refugees, things may have gotten worse, if that is possible. Hope for democratic reform in Myanmar has faded, more than three months after the regime's crackdown on anti-government protests in late September.
There are reports that more than 2,000 people from Myanmar have taken shelter in Thailand during the three months since the junta's crackdown. The tide grew into a flood, and the refugee camps swelled until it became impossible to take more. That forced scores toward Malaysia, and into a situation that went from bad to worse.
Meyer says, "For those refugees that are coming out of Malaysia right now, they have no option for staying in that country, They have no safety in that country where they are now, nor in returning to Burma. And that is why there's such a need for them to be resettled to a third country, which is the U.S."
Bethany is focusing on foster care for the young people who've been separated from their parents. The circumstances for these Burmese minors are similar to The Lost Boys of Sudan. In 2000, Bethany helped over 130 Unaccompanied Minors from Sudan resettle in West Michigan. (Unaccompanied Minors are children under the age of 18 who enter the United States without a parent or appropriate caregiver to provide for them).
Their team is anticipating the arrival of possibly over a hundred Chin Burmese refugee children who are currently residing in the mountains of Malaysia. They are expected to arrive sometime within this next year.
Meyer notes the haven provided is both physical and spiritual. "Many of the refugees that are coming are being persecuted in their own country because of their Christian faith, and so many of the youth that come do share a common Christian faith with the families. I think they're able to mutually encourage each other in that sense. Families are able to provide love and support and care in showing Christ's love in that way to these young people."
Families interested in becoming foster homes for refugee minors must become licensed by the state. The licensing process usually takes about a month to complete and includes a home study, criminal history checks, medical checks, and 12 hours of training. Click here if you can help, either by fostering (limited to West Michigan), by prayer, or by supporting financially.