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Rohingya crisis: After visiting Myanmar, Pope arrives in Bangladesh

Pope Francis has not made any direct reference to the plight of Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh in their hundreds of thousands. Photograph: (Reuters)

Reuters Dhaka Division, Bangladesh Nov 30, 2017, 11.24 AM (IST)

Pope Francis landed in Bangladesh on Thursday after a diplomatically sensitive trip to mainly Buddhist Myanmar, where he made no direct reference to the plight of Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh in their hundreds of thousands.

The pope’s trip to mostly Muslim Bangladesh is likely to less sensitive though his words will be closely watched following his decision not to use the word “Rohingya” in public during his four-day Myanmar trip to avoid a diplomatic incident with the country some have accused of ethnic cleansing.

On Friday, the pope is expected to meet a group of Rohingya refugees from among the roughly 625,000 who have fled to Bangladesh from neighboring Myanmar since the end of August.

“He did not even pronounce the word ‘Rohingya’ in Myanmar,” H.T. Imam, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s political adviser, told Reuters on Thursday.

“Here we would be looking forward to what he says.”

Bangladeshi President Abdul Hamid welcomed the pope at Dhaka airport. Hamid and the pope were both due to make speeches later in the day and to raise the refugee crisis.

The Vatican on Wednesday said the pope’s moral authority was unblemished by his failure to refer to the persecuted Myanmar Muslim minority by the name they chose to identify themselves by, and his mere presence drew attention to the refugee crisis.

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