WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. refugee and immigration advocates pressed Oct. 21 for more help for ethnic Chin Christians internally displaced in their native Myanmar, and those who have fled to neighboring India and Malaysia.
Some of the specifics for which they pushed include greater access by Myanmar’s military for relief workers to reach internally displaced Christians at numerous camps set up in Chin state; better integration into society of refugee Myanmar Christians now in camps in India and Malaysia; and an opportunity for them to enter the United States as refugees suffering from religious persecution.
The U.S. bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services has settled more than 63,000 Chins in the United States over the past two decades, according to Bill Canny, MRS’ executive director.
Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ international aid and development agency, is “one of the several humanitarian agencies providing humanitarian relief” in the region, Canny noted. Chin state borders Rakhine state in western Myanmar; a military campaign to purge Rakhine of its Rohingya Muslim population has resulted in hundreds of thousands of refugees in southern Asia, and deep suffering for those who remain.
Zo Tum Hmung of the Chin Association of Maryland, which sponsored the Oct. 21 press call, cited U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees statistics that showed more than 153,000 Myanmar refugees in Malaysia alone. Two-thirds were Rohingya Muslims, but there also were 22,510 Chins in that number.
Canny was the first of many on the call to advocate for the U.S. raising its cap on the number