Myanmar (CAM/MNN) — Deadly
communal violence that broke out six weeks ago is still taking its toll today
in western Burma.
Christian Aid Mission spokesman Bill Bray says, "The pacification of
the region has been to starve the region into submission. There are deaths
every day, there's a great deal of sickness. There's no medical aid getting in,
no food, no transportation, and a total breakdown of the market system."
Not only can they not get supplies, but there's been salting and
poisoning of wells. Disease and
starvation are contributing to daily deaths in Rakhine State.
The United Nations now calls the health situation in Rakhine State
"desperate." Bray explains, "There are
about 90,000 people homeless and 2500 homes destroyed in the fighting, but
the Christians have been caught in the crossfire, and the army has shut down all
the transportation in the area."
Fighting between Rakhine Buddhists and Rochingya Muslims has
slowed along the Burmese border with Bangladesh, allowing some aid to get
through to the Christian villagers and missionary families. Bray notes, "Roadblocks are lifting a
bit, and the curfew has been lifted. So we need to get emergency help into these
nine mission stations and 17 families that have been without help."
Native missionaries have asked Christian Aid for urgent help–not
only for the stranded missionaries, but for the unreached people groups they
are serving. "The leaders there started a campaign called 'God's Love in
Action' to deliver aid to their starving neighbors," Bray says, adding, "There's
a well-established native missionary
network there. They are reaching their neighbors. Every one of these churches can be a
lighthouse of hope and help to their neighbors."
A Christian Aid release explains the history of the conflict:
800,000 Rochingya Muslims have entered Burma "illegally" according to the
government and are considered stateless both by Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Descendents of Arab, Mughal, Turkish, and Moorish invaders of South Asia, they
have spread not only to Myanmar, but every country of Southeast Asia.
The fighting has eased in the capital of Sittwe, but many
residents continue to arm themselves with homemade weapons.
As the crisis continues, doors are opening, and mission leaders
want to take advantage of the opportunity.
Funds will be used for emergency food, clean water, water bottles,
clothes and shelter. As roads open, Christian volunteers and students are going
out from the provincial capital of Sittwe to deliver the aid. About $10,000 is
needed to fund the first rescue efforts to those in distress.
Help will go through the local pastors, missionaries, and Christian
workers and then to the most needy victims of the violence. Writes one Burmese mission leader, "If we
don't help them survive, even more will die each day without food and water —
and they will die not knowing the Savior Jesus Christ."
Christian Aid has established a special emergency fund to help. (Aid for relief should be designated to Gift
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