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News Around the World
Published on 25 January, 2008

Myanmar refugees lose hope for change; ministry steps forward to help

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.

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Phone: 616-224-7610
Alt Phone: 800-652-7082
Fax: 616-224-7436
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Bethany Christian Services901 Eastern Avenue NE
Grand Rapids, MI
49501-0294

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