Burma (MNN) — A new day is dawning for the oppressed Muslim Rohingya of Burma. A severe medical crisis has developed among the Rohingya since international aid groups, the only people who will help this ethnic minority with health care, were forced out of Arakan state in February.
Six months later, the groups are being allowed back into the region. But, will their help arrive in time?
“Doctors Without Borders and other large NGO’s were invited to get back involved in those camps,” shares Steve Gumaer of Partners Relief and Development.
“We’re really happy about that change; 60-percent of those 150,000 people are getting rations now, food rations.”
Gumaer describes additional benefits of the large groups’ re-entry and re-involvement.
“First of all, when those big organizations are involved, there is a flow of information to the international community to let people know what’s happening,” he explains.
“Secondly, it’s a foot in the door to prevent these people from disappearing from the country altogether.”
Sharing the Gospel in a war zone
Partners and one other small agency have been the only groups caring for the basic needs of the Rohingya since the large groups were driven out. But, even in the middle of a war zone where meeting basic needs like food and shelter take top priority, there are opportunities to share the Truth of the Gospel.
“When we got involved with this largely-Muslim population, we were surprised by the open door that we had with them,” says Gumaer. “We were invited into their shacks, invited into their lives and invited to be a part of their community.
“[When] you are working to help victims either escape or survive the ordeal, you’re quickly being asked, ‘What is the source of your determination? Why are you risking so much to help us?’ They continue to ask questions that eventually lead to more ultimate answers, like how things are fulfilled and satisfied in Christ.”
It’s not over yet
Even though aid groups have been allowed to re-enter refugee camps, the Muslim Rohingya still need a lot of help.
Government oppression continues in the form of restricted movement and humanitarian access, hate campaigns, state-induced physical violence and discriminatory laws, to name a few.
“We get reports that people are still dying because of treatable illnesses and preventable diseases,” shares Gumaer.
Partners and their in-country teams are still doing what they can to help the Rohingya. They’re providing emergency relief to those in camps near Sittwe, including rice distribution, basic medical support and tarps for shelter, as well as seeds and fertilizer to help establish a more sustainable food supply.
Most importantly, Gumaer says, keep praying for the Rohingya crisis. Pray for medical care and humanitarian aid to arrive quickly. Pray the Muslim Rohingya come to know Jesus Christ as Savior.
Pray Partners’ teams can live out the words of 1 John 3:16 through 18: “By this we know love, that He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”