An acknowledgment of genocide by the United Nations (UN) is something that has been a long time in coming, according to the president of Providence University College.

Last year, the Bangladesh border was flooded with Rohingya Muslims fleeing their home states in Myanmar. In particular, the states of Kachine, Shan, and Rakhine were affected, with hundreds of thousands of Internationally Displaced Persons living in IDP camps after being forced by Myanmar military to leave their homes.

While it was originally believed that individuals would remain displaced for about six months, it's so far lasted the better part of a decade. The UN, as of Monday, August 26, labeled the events in Myanmar as "genocide," calling actions  "the gravest crimes under international law."

President David Johnson of Providence says that it's about time.

"I'm not so sure what took so long, but the UN resolution will certainly speed things along if the Burmese government will listen."

In November 2017, Johnson and several other members of Providence staff and faculty traveled to Myanmar, where they experienced for themselves the army's mass displacement of individuals. 

"Those villagers all fled, and they fled to the church," explained Johnson, "they knew that the church was in the business of taking care of people."

About a hundred IDP camps set up by the local church began taking in these displaced individuals, to the point where over 100,000 individuals now call these camps their temporary homes.

Johnson says that while these camps may have been sufficient for a short time, they were never intended to be a long-term solution, and require far more funding from non-governmental organizations.

Although conditions are far from ideal, Johnson commented on the resilience of the people within the IDP camps, particularly within the state of Kachin.

"They were making the best of things, but certainly the villages had very little to offer."

What came of Providence's trip to Myanmar, however, was an understanding of the deep yet simple needs of the people most affected by the crisis.

"Part of the goal of the trip was to find out what was going on," the president shared. "They said, 'people send us money, and people send us food,but nobody ever comes to hear our story.' So we sat and listened."

The people of Kachin are an indigenous people who have had to move from their homes in more mountainous areas to the valleys where IDP camps have offered them refuge.

The response, Johnson says, was amazing. "It brought tears to my eyes."

In response to the plight of those in Myanmar, Providence remains invested in contributing to those affected by the crisis through the training of leaders for the Kachin church. Johnson says that over the years, around 15 individuals have studied at the University College, eventually returning to their home states to become leaders of the church in Burma.

Johnson encourages individuals to keep those in Myanmar facing persecution and displacement in their prayers. "I think that the response of the UN now is really an answer to prayer... pray that this persecution would stop, and that someone would intervene, who [has] some power.

"It sounds like the UN is moving in that direction."