As humanitarian aid distributed, Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey can use know-how to build better camps in Bangladesh


Amid continued aid distribution, Turkey aims to build more livable camps for Rohingya Muslims who fled Myanmar’s state persecution and took refuge in Bangladesh, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday.

Speaking to reporters at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport before leaving for Kazakhstan, Erdogan said Ankara has been continuing multilateral diplomacy to find a sustainable solution to the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.

Cumhurbaşkanı Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Kazakistan'a hareketinden önce Atatürk Havalimanı'nda düzenlediği basın toplantısı ile ilgili görsel sonucu

According to the UN on Friday, 270,000 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh as tens of thousands more were internally displaced by the latest violence in Myanmar's western Rakhine state.

Erdogan said that the current tent camps in Bangladesh are not livable, adding that Turkey could share its know-how building camps with better facilities as the country has hosted around 3 million Syrian refugees for over six years.

“If Bangladesh authorities allocate an area, we want to build more livable tent camps [for Rohingya refugees] using our experience,” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan said that Turkey’s intensive efforts have started to bear fruit as the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) was allowed to distribute food and clothing in Rakhine state, hours after Erdogan’s telephone call with Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi on the recent violations of human rights.

“TIKA has distributed 1,000 tons of humanitarian aid. In the second phase, we are planning to distribute 10,000 tons of food, medicine and clothes,” he said.

Erdogan added that Turkey continues to discuss the issue with world leaders as Turkey’s aid agencies deliver vital aid to the refugees.

Explaining that so far he has spoken with some 20 leaders from across the world, Erdogan said:

“We are continuing multilateral diplomacy to put an end to the human tragedy in the Rakhine state.”

Turkish NGOs’ aid for Rohingya

The Turkish Red Crescent has distributed aid worth $2.5 million for Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh, Bora Tumer, the head of the group’s Bangladesh delegation, told Anadolu Agency.

Tumer said the group distributed 2,000 packages of food during the visit of first lady Emine Erdogan along with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya.

“Each package is meant to supply a family’s needs for two weeks,” Tumer said.

He also said that they distributed sacrificial meat to 22,000 families, adding they coordinated with Bangladesh’s Red Crescent.

Additionally, the Diyanet Foundation (TDV), the charity arm of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate, next week is set to distribute food packages worth of $150,000 to 3,000 families.

The aid targets more than 140,000 Rohingya Muslims in refugee camps in Bangladesh, including in Kutupalong and Balu Khali.

The foundation is also planning to distribute $650,000 worth of packages of clothing and hygienic supplies following its field work.

For five years the foundation has been involved in distributing humanitarian aid, including during Muslim holy months, as well as education activities for Rakhine Muslims.

The value of the aid to date totals almost 12 million Turkish liras ($3.5 million).

Permission to help

Ahmet Refik Cetinkaya, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency’s Bangladesh Coordinator, told Anadolu Agency that they started to distribute 1,000 tons of aid to Rohingya Muslims after getting necessary permission from Myanmar authorities.

The agency has worked in coordination with Bangladesh’s government to distribute aid for refugees in the country due to the operations of Mynamar’s military in the region, Cetinkaya said.

Fifty-five tons of food aid packages containing rice, oil, sugar, lentils, and toys for children were prepared for the visit of Emine Erdogan, he added.

Rakhine state has seen simmering tension between its Buddhist and Muslim populations since communal violence broke out in 2012.

In a security crackdown launched last October in the state’s northern Maungdaw district, the UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances.

The report found evidence of human rights violations by security forces that indicated crimes against humanity.

Rohingya representatives have said that around 400 people were killed in the crackdown.

In recent weeks, the government has boosted its military presence in Maungdaw, and the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) claimed responsibility for attacks in which the government said dozens were killed.

The ARSA said the attacks were in response to raids, killings and looting by soldiers.