Pope Francis lands in Myanmar for difficult visit amid Rohingya crisis

Pope Francis lands in Myanmar for difficult visit amid Rohingya crisis

Pope Francis already used the word Rohingya in two appeals from the Vatican this year

Pope Francis has arrived in Myanmar where tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees have faced brutal military crackdown in the past three months.

It’s Pope Francis first trip to the Southeast Asian nation, Myanmar who hold month-long country widely crackdown on ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims.

After touching down in the early afternoon, the pope was greeted by a large crowd at the airport, many waving yellow and white Vatican flags and dressed in T-shirts bearing the slogan of the trip Love and Peace.

The trip fraught with sensitivity and trepidation over how he will deal with the plight of the Muslim Rohingya could be the trickiest yet of his papacy.

The focus is likely to be on whether he uses the term “Rohingya” to describe the group, who say they are persecuted. Myanmar officials reject the term, raising fears it could spark violence by the Buddhist majority if he does.

In Myanmar, Francis will meet separately with the country’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi and powerful military chief and Buddhist monks.

Earlier Myanmar’s local Catholic Church has publicly urged Francis to avoid using the term “Rohingya which is shunned by many locally because the ethnic group is not a recognized minority in the country

Various experts warn that this trip will require balancing a uniquely complicated set of humanitarian, diplomatic and religious questions.

More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar (also called Burma) for neighbouring Bangladesh since August when deadly attacks on police posts by Rohingya militants prompted a military crackdown in Rakhine state.

Myanmar says the military crackdown in Rakhine is to root out violent insurgents there, but the UN has described the violence as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing , a sentiment echoed by international critics.

He will then visits Bangladesh, and meet a small group of Rohingya refugees there in a symbolic gesture. The 80-year-old pontiff has become known for his moderate views and willingness to denounce global injustice.

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