Bangladesh PM and Pope discuss Rohingya crisis

The Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina has been welcomed at the Vatican. She and Pope Francis discussed the need to find a lasting solution to the Rohingya refugee crisis.

They also discussed positive inter-faith relations in Bangladesh, which is 90% Muslim. Christians make up only 0.2% of the population.

A Holy See Press Office statement says Francis and Hasina discussed the Catholic Church’s contribution in Bangladesh, “especially in the field of education.”

During their 20-minute conversation, Francis and Hasina focused on the need to defend minorities and refugees.

Francis acknowledged the effort Bangladesh is making in promoting the peaceful coexistence of the various religious communities in the nation.

He particularly praised the Bangladeshi government for welcoming 600,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees last year. Most are living in refugee camps.

They fled Myanmar last year, where they were being persecuted.

The Rohingya are mainly a Muslim ethnic group from Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Recent state-sponsored violence in Myanmar has led the United Nations to declare the crisis “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Hasina and Francis both hope a “just and lasting solution to [the Rohingya] ordeal” might be reached soon.

After the meeting the pope met the prime minister’s nine-person delegation and the two exchanged gifts.

Hasina gave Francis an image of a boat, believed to be filled with migrants.

Francis gave Hasina the medal of peace, which he often gives to the heads of state he receives. He also presented her with a copy of his 2018 Message for Peace and his environmental encyclical Laudato Si.

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News category: World.

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