Rohingya caught between a rock and a hard place as rains fall in Burma

By June 6, 2013

Burma (MNN) — The Rohingya: they made it past Cyclone Mahasen a few weeks ago, but now the rains are starting to fall.

“People that we have managed to get under shelter… [are now] in knee-deep water,” says Steve Gumaer of Partners Relief and Development.

Their situation has reached a new level of desperation, he adds.

“On one hand, there’s the monsoon season rains and the fact that those fields are low and naturally flood,” Gumaer explains. “On the other hand, they don’t have anywhere to go.”

Nearly a year ago, Burma’s government chased the Rohingya from their homes into this low-lying region along the coastline to die.

“The fields flood naturally every year, and the authorities know this. This is part of why they were put on that land,” says Gumear.

As the Rohingya struggle to survive, Partners is helping in every way they can.

“Because the situation has evolved and changed, we’ve responded in different ways since last July when the attacks first happened,” Gumaer says.

Until recently, Partners had been focusing most of their efforts among the Rohingya on medical care.

“There’s still a desperate need for medical help, but what we observed when we were there two weeks ago is there’s a much greater need right now for shelter, and for food,” Gumaer states.

“Shelter and food continue to be a critical need, and that’s where we are aiming our efforts for the foreseeable future.”

You can come alongside their efforts here.

The United Nations (UN) refers to the Rohingya as the most friendless people group in the world. In addition, their citizenship was revoked in 1982, so not only are they friendless, the Rohingya are officially a stateless people.

Add to all of that an unimaginable economic situation and a government which stops them from accessing help.

“Because the state authorities control the registration process, the UN and the World Food Program are only giving rice to those that the state authorities say are real refugees,” explains Gumaer.

“That is approximately 5% of 200,000 people.”

With all of the above in mind, where do you even start to pray for the Rohingya?

“My prayer has been that the leverage and machinery of justice, moved by the people of God that are out there praying, would indeed turn,” says Gumaer.

“And that somehow we could see [a change], through the efforts of a lot of people and through the field efforts of those that are [in Burma], so that these people have a home.”

Partners’ consistent presence along is helping change Muslim hearts. Islam is inherently tied to the Rohingya’s identity as a people group, but they’re not standing in opposition to Christ-followers.

“These people refer to us as the ‘Christians who care’, and we run into no resistance because of our faith,” says Gumaer. “We have rather run into a feeling of brotherhood.”

Pray this goodwill continues. Please pray also that more of the Rohingya will come to Christ as they experience His love.

You can find updates on the Rohingya at the Partners Relief and Development blog.

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