Aloysius John visits Rohingya camps and meets with church leaders, Caritas staff and government officials
Caritas Internationalis secretary general Aloysius John speaks at a press briefing in capital Dhaka on Feb. 24 during his ongoing visit to Bangladesh. (Photo: Caritas Bangladesh)
Caritas Internationalis secretary general Aloysius John has lauded the people of Bangladesh for their generosity in supporting Rohingya refugees.
“My visit to Bangladesh was first of all to witness the solidarity of the confederation in Caritas Bangladesh and to the people of Bangladesh for their generosity in receiving the displaced people from Myanmar — the Rohingya,” he said during a press briefing at Dhaka Reporters Unity auditorium on Feb. 24 during his five-day visit to the South Asian nation.
He lamented that “our world is undergoing a major disaster today.”
“Millions of people are being put on the wrong road with no point of return because of selfishness, because of wrong decisions and because of violence. So, they are put on the wrong road, in exile. I met some of them,” he said.
John noted that his intention for the visit was “to come and express to these people that people in other parts of the world are also thinking about them” and “to express to Bangladesh our gratitude on behalf of Caritas Internationalis.”
He said another purpose of his visit was to be with Caritas Bangladesh on its 50th anniversary celebrations.
During his visit to Bangladesh in 2017, Holy Father Pope Francis made a special call and expressed special sympathy for Rohingya refugees
“I have known Caritas Bangladesh since 1992. What I see that since its inception Caritas Bangladesh has been on the front line supporting, presenting and receiving the poor and giving them the best of the international solidarity,” he said.
John also hailed Caritas Bangladesh as “the instrument of dialogue” in the country.
“Yesterday I met with the director of the NGO Affairs Bureau, Mr. Tariqul Islam. I will tell you that I was really surprised with his openness, his appreciation of Caritas and the good collaboration of Caritas with the NGO Affairs Bureau.”
Caritas has been in Bangladesh for 50 years, working in the struggle against poverty and to help the people live in dignity, he added.
John was accompanied by Caritas Asia president Benedict Alo D’Rozario, Caritas Bangladesh executive director Sebastian Rozario and Caritas Bangladesh director (programs) James Gomes.
D’Rozario said the Church has been involved in support and advocacy for Rohingya migrants and displaced people worldwide.
“During his visit to Bangladesh in 2017, Holy Father Pope Francis made a special call and expressed special sympathy for Rohingya refugees. He urged the international community to come forward to help them and to solve the problem,” he said.
“Caritas Internationalis, as an observer of the United Nations, has been working with the UNHCR, IOM and other organizations and assisting people who are migrants and forcibly displaced. We have this advocacy program worldwide, so the voice of the voiceless can be raised and public opinions can be mobilized to solve these problems,” he added.
He arrived in Bangladesh on Feb. 21 and visited the Central Language Martyrs’ Monument in capital Dhaka to pay homage to the Bangla language martyrs of 1952
Aloysius John, 63, is an Indian by birth and now a French citizen.
He has served Caritas in various capacities since 1983. He was elected secretary general of Caritas Internationalis, the global confederation of Catholic charities, in 2019 with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle as the president on a four-year mandate.
He arrived in Bangladesh on Feb. 21 and visited the Central Language Martyrs’ Monument in capital Dhaka to pay homage to the Bangla language martyrs of 1952 on International Mother Language Day.
On Feb. 22, he visited two Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar district. He spoke with refugees and inspected a range of Caritas initiatives such as the Multipurpose Children and Adolescent Centre, shelter construction and water and sanitation hygiene (WaSH) in the camps.
On Feb. 23, he met with K.M. Tariqul Islam, director general of the state-run NGO Affairs Bureau in Dhaka.
He also met with Catholic leaders including Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario, Archbishop Bejoy N. D’Cruze of Dhaka and apostolic nuncio Archbishop George Kocherry.
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