Thai Catholics assist Myanmar’s Karen refugees

Thai Catholics assist Myanmar’s Karen refugees

Catholics in a northern Thai province have been supporting thousands of displaced Karen refugees from Myanmar — in stark contrast to the Thai government’s unwelcoming policy regarding refugees and migrants from the military-ruled neighbouring country.

Church leaders joined by Catholics in Chiang Mai have welcomed and supported thousands of Karen refugees with aid after they fled their homes in Myanmar’s Kayin state and hid in the forest near the Thanlyin River on the Thai-Myanmar border.

Bishop Francis Xavier Vira Arpondratana of Chiang Mai told Agenzia Fides that the diocesan team of lay volunteers, priests and nuns has been providing aid to Karen people in two locations south of Salawin National Park near the border.

Bishop Vira also appealed to Church groups in Thailand to assist the refugees with aid including money, water, food, medicine and daily essentials.

Sr Aranya Kitbunchu, president of the Federation of Religious Superiors in Thailand, has joined with Ching Mai Diocese and Caritas Thailand in the rescue operation for refugees.

“The refugees are in a desperate situation: they need food, water, medicine and other basic services to survive these difficult times,” said Sr Aranya, who acts as the coordinator of volunteers and representatives of religious orders responding to the refugee emergency since late March.