This photo taken on Sept 17 shows a young victim of an air strike on a school building in Depeyin township in Myanmar's northwest Sagaing region, a day after an attack on the village by a Myanmar military helicopter. (Photo: AFP)
Speaking about the “insanity” of war in the world, Pope Francis appealed for dialogue to stop the conflict in Myanmar where military attacks against civilians continue unabated.
“Let us think of Syria — more than 10 years! — let us think of Syria, let us think of the children in Yemen, let us think of Myanmar: all over the place! What does war do? It destroys, it destroys humanity, destroys everything. Conflicts should not be solved through war,” the pope said during his catechesis at his general audience on Nov. 9.
“There is such a need to encounter each other. I have in mind the insanity of war of which battered Ukraine is a victim, and of many other conflicts, that will never be resolved through the infantile logic of artillery, but only with the gentle power of dialogue.”
While the world has paid much attention to the war in Ukraine, the Catholic leader has spoken several times about the war in Myanmar and prayed for peace and reconciliation there.
The pontiff’s pleas come as Myanmar's junta shows no sign of relenting in its attacks on civilians using air strikes and heavy weaponry in regions including the predominantly Christian areas of Kachin, Kayah, Karen and Chin states.
At least 80 people were killed in an aerial bombing of a music concert in the jade-mining region of Hpaknat township in northern Kachin state on Oct 23.
Military offensives have destroyed villages and killed hundreds of civilians. Churches, Church-run facilities and Christian villages have been attacked and badly damaged.
In a report released on Nov 3, Amnesty International documented 16 air attacks that took place between March 2021 and August 2022 in Kayah, Kayin and Chin states as well as in the central Sagaing region.
The aerial attacks killed at least 15 civilians, injured at least 36 others and destroyed homes, religious buildings, schools, health facilities and a camp for displaced people.
Myanmar’s crisis will top the agenda at the upcoming ASEAN summit which begins on Nov 10, which US president Joe Biden will attend.
More than 2,400 people, including scores of children, have been killed and over 16,000 people have been detained by the junta since the coup in February last year.