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Bishop to visit Kachin refugees

Prelate plans to distribute food and relief supplies, as well as provide spiritual comfort reporter, Mandalay

October 12, 2011

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Bishop Philip Lasap Za Hawng of Lashio in Shan state is paying a visit to refugees from Kachin state who have taken shelter at a church in Mong Ji to escape ongoing fighting in the area. Two volunteers will accompany the bishop today to distribute food and other relief supplies, as well as to provide spiritual comfort at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Mong Ji, where 53 refugees remain in the Church compound. “The St Vincent De Paul Association and Karuna Lashio have contributed rice, kitchen utensils, medicine and money for the refugees,” said Ma Naing, a member of the association who was to accompany the group to Mong Ji. “So far, the parish is helping the refugees as much as we can with food items,” said Fr Lucas La Yawng, parish priest at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Mong Ji this morning. In addition to the refugees in the Church, another 93 have been housed with relatives of parishioners and another 103 have taken shelter at a Baptist church, Fr La Yawng said. He added that he is concerned about reports that about 40 government soldiers have taken up positions near the church while he has been away gathering relief supplies. Hundreds of villagers in northern Shan state have been displaced by conflicts that broke out between government troops and the ethnic opposition Kachin Independence Army on September 30. The fighting has not been intense, said a Catholic social worker from Lashio, who added that about 500 refugees were also taking shelter in Baptist churches in Munggu. The worker, who asked not to be named, said this morning that “World Concern, an international NGO, was taking responsibility for providing health care for refugees in Munggu, while the churches were trying to procure food and non-food aid.” Respiratory infections, diarrhea and skin infections are among the most common health problems among the refugees, the social worker said. Related reports: Refugees flee fierce fighting Day of prayer for displaced Kachins

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