Rohingya refugees from Myanmar left stranded on a boat Rohingya refugees from Myanmar left stranded on a boat  (AFP or licensors)

Christians ask for prayers as fighting in Myanmar intensifies

Amidst increasing violence between rebels and government forces in Myanmar, Christians in the country ask Aid to the Church in Need for prayers.

By Joseph Tulloch

Rebel groups in Myanmar have launched a large-scale revolt against the ruling military junta.

The army seized power in a 2021 coup, deposing an elected government, but is facing resistance from ethnic militias and the rebel National Unity Government. 

Fighting was initially concentrated in the eastern Shan State, but more recently has spread to Chin and Kayah States too.

Aid to the Church in Need, a Pontifical Foundation working with suffering and persecuted Christians, has reported that individuals in Chin State – the only region in the country with a Christian majority – have been asking for prayers amidst the growing violence.

Chin State attacks

Earlier this week, ethnic Chin fighters captured the town of Rikhawdar from government forces.

Now, rebel troops, along with locals, are reporting that the government is carrying out attacks on the civilian population in the region.

A minister for the National Unity Government, which leads opposition to the army, and serves as a parallel government, told The Associated Press on Friday that two jets had bombed the town of Vuilu.

He said eleven people, including eight children, had been killed, and that houses, school buildings, and a church had been damaged. Locals say that there had been no fighting in that part of Chin state.

In a statement on Friday, the UN Human Rights Office said it was "concerned that, as the military loses ground on multiple fronts, its response risks unleashing an even greater force through indiscriminate and disproportionate airstrikes and artillery barrages.”

Request for prayers

In a press release, Aid to the Church in Need, a Pontifical Foundation working with suffering and persecuted Christians, expressed its concern about the “significant escalation in violence and displacement” in Myanmar.

The statement notes that "throughout the last three years of civil war, the Church has been standing by the people", but now “suffering has reached a critical point, prompting ever more civilians to seek refuge in churches as safe havens”.

“Regrettably”, Aid to the Church in Need adds, “some churches have become zones of conflict" and "religious institutions have been forcibly evacuated.”

The ACN statement ends with a message from one of the organisation’s local partners, which reads: “The situation is dire, and we humbly request everyone to pray for us during these challenging times.”

Thank you for reading our article. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to our daily newsletter. Just click here

18 November 2023, 16:21