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Pope uses 'Rohingya' word in public for first time during current Asia trip

"I ask for your forgiveness for the indifference of the world," Francis told a group of Rohingyas

Press Trust of India  |  Dhaka 

Pope Francis
Pope Francis interacts with a Rohingya Muslim refugee at an interfaith peace meeting in Dhaka, Bangladesh | AP/PTI

on Friday referred to Rohingyas by their ethnic name publically for the first time during his Asia tour in Bangladesh as he met a group of refugees who fled to escape persecution by the country's military and apologised for the "indifference" of the world towards them.

Over 620,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh following a crackdown by the military in response to attacks on security forces by Rohingya militants.


Francis, who is on a three-day visit to Bangladesh, met a group of Rohingya refugees and listened to their heart-rending tale of escape from the Buddhist-majority nation.

"The presence of God today is also called Rohingya," the the 80-year-old pontiff said.

He also apologised for the "indifference" of the world towards Asia's worst refugee crisis in decades.

"I ask for your forgiveness for the indifference of the world," Francis told a group of Rohingyas at the archbishop's palace in

"Let us not turn away" from it, he further said.

An interfaith peace prayer alongside Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and other Christian leaders was held at the archbishop's residence.

This is the first time Francis used the term "Rohingya" during his South Asia tour.

The Pope had been criticised by rights groups for not using the term in Myanmar, whose military has been accused of ethnic cleansing by the UN. He had used the term before his visit.

Myanmar's government rejects the term Rohingya, labelling the community "Bengalis". It says they migrated illegally from Bangladesh so should not be listed as one of the country's ethnic groups.

First Published: Fri, December 01 2017. 20:24 IST
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