Military honor guards march during a ceremony to mark Myanmar's 73rd Independence Day in Naypyidaw on Jan. 4. (Photo: AFP)
Archbishop Marco Tin Win of Mandalay has decried the lack of peace that has led Myanmar to become poorer after decades of conflict between the government and armed ethnic groups.
“In the year 2021, our hope is that people from all walks of life can live peacefully by getting peace in the country,” the prelate said in a New Year message on Jan. 1 which marked World Day of Peace.
While he conveyed his message about peace, he raised concerns about getting access to Covid-19 vaccines for all people in the country.
The bishop said rich countries have organized vaccination programs while poorer nations including Myanmar are struggling to purchase enough vaccines for all people.
“As a citizen of Myanmar, I feel disappointment and sorrow over the situation of our country, which has become a poorer nation due to chronic wars,” he said.
The 60-year-old bishop quoted Cardinal Charles Bo’s New Year message that “even superpowers which spend billions on war machines realized their folly when they understood they have more soldiers than doctors, more guns than ventilators."
The archbishop added: "It would be better if we can spend most of our money for purchasing ventilators, laboratory equipment and vaccines.”
As countries worldwide cope with the impact of Covid-19, he urged all Christians to get strength from Jesus Christ as Emmanuel is with us. “I urge you to move forward the journey of 2021 without fear,” he added.
On Dec. 29, Myanmar's government extended Covid-19 restrictions including a ban on international flights until the end of January to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Stay-at-home orders imposed by the Ministry of Health and Sports remain place in several townships across the country including Yangon and Mandalay.
Except Mandalay and nearby town Pyin-Oo-Lwin, Catholic churches have held public Masses including at Christmas and New Year with no more than 30 participants and following social distancing, wearing face masks and screening temperatures before entering churches.
Myanmar reported 729 new coronavirus cases on Jan. 4, bringing the total to 126,345 with 2,728 deaths and 109,548 recoveries. It has the third-highest number of cases in Asean behind Indonesia and the Philippines.