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Pope Francis plans to visit Burma 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 Burma from 27-30 November, stopping in Rangoon and in the capital Naypyidaw. He would visit the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, from 30 November to 2 December.
The announcement came hours after Bangladesh border guards pushed back thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing the worst violence in Burma in five years, with at least 104 people killed.
In February, Francis issued a stinging criticism of the treatment of Burma’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 Burma’s Arakan State, but are denied citizenship and face severe travel restrictions. Many Buddhists across Burma regard them as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.