Dear prayer partners,

On Sunday 28 June, the United Nations expressed concern over the humanitarian impact of fighting in western Myanmar’s Rakhine and  Chin states. Fighting between Myanmar’s military and the Arakan Army – an insurgent group fighting for more autonomy for ethnic Rakhine Buddhists – has escalated in recent weeks.  The UN urged both sides to “take urgent measures to spare civilians,” as the conflict triggered a surge in violence (with many fatalities, especially children), and left some villagers facing starvation. Thousands have fled, seeking refuge beyond their borders.

On Thursday 25 June, residents of a village in Indonesia, helped a boatload of Rohingya refugees (fleeing ongoing conflict in Myanmar, and overcrowded camps in Bangladesh) to safety. Earlier in June, Bangladesh said it would not take back nearly 300 Rohingya who were detained by Malaysia after their boat was found drifting off the country’s north-western island of Langkawi. Over the past two months, Malaysian authorities have repeatedly turned away boats of asylum-seekers attempting to land, leaving hundreds of Rohingya in life-threatening conditions at sea.

The Rohingya, also from Myanmar’s conflict-ridden Rakhine State, have faced dire circumstances and an uncertain future since a deadly government crackdown in August 2017 which saw hundreds of thousands cross the border into Bangladesh. Subjected to extreme violence, the Rohingya fled their homes by foot or by sea. In January 2020, the UN’s top court ordered Myanmar to take measures to protect members of its Rohingya community (a Muslim minority people group) from genocide. However, the government of Myanmar (a Buddhist-majority nation), continued to deny the Rohingya citizenship – viewing them as Bangladeshi migrants – even excluding them from the 2014 census. To date, they remain a stateless people.

Christians in Myanmar are estimated to make up around 8.2% of the population, and many are from minority groups themselves. According to numerous sources, Christian ethnic minorities have faced significant discrimination in Myanmar. There have been reports of campaigns of forcible conversion to Buddhism, restrictions on church-building and religious gatherings, forced labour conscription, and killings, torture, rape, abductions, and other acts of violence against Christians by the military.

Added to Myanmar’s many current challenges, the global COVID-19 pandemic has also severely impacted the economy, where a rise in poverty rates is forecast.

Please join with us in praying for Myanmar – a country in desperate need of prayer and divine intervention.

“Prayer is the mightiest agent to advance God’s work.” (E. M. Bounds)