Pope Francis plans to visit Myanmar and Bangladesh in late November and early December, two countries caught up in a crisis over the Rohingya Muslim minority. The Vatican, confirming an earlier Reuters report, said on Monday he would visit Myanmar from Nov. 27 to 30, stopping in Yangon and in the capital, Naypyitaw. He would visit the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2.
The announcement came hours after Bangladesh border guards pushed back thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing the worst violence in Myanmar in five years, with 104 people killed.
In February, Francis issued a stinging criticism of the treatment of Myanmar’s Rohingya community, saying they had been tortured and killed simply because they wanted to keep their culture and Muslim faith.
Around 1.1 million Rohingya live in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, but are denied citizenship and face severe travel restrictions. Many Buddhists across Myanmar regard them as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.