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Turkey Aid Groups Offer Lifeline to Rohingya Muslims

ANKARA – Amid a very little and inadequate relief efforts from the international aid bodies, as well as the international organuzations, including the UN, Turkish aid groups have extended a helping hand to the nearly 270,000 Rohingya Muslims who fled to neighboring Bangladesh.

Following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s telephone conversation with Burma’s State Counselor Aung San Su Kyi on Monday, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), a Turkish aid agency, rushed to distribute 1,000 tons of aid to Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin announced.

Kalin also said that Turkey plans to deliver aid initially to 100,000 families in coordination with the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh.

More than 1,000 people may already have been killed in Burma, mostly minority Rohingya Muslims, a senior United Nations representative told AFP on Friday.

In the last two weeks alone 270,000 mostly Rohingya civilians have fled to Bangladesh, overwhelming refugee camps that were already bursting at the seams, the UN said.

Dr. Altay Atli, a research associate specializing on the Asia-Pacific region at Sabanci University’s Istanbul Policy Center, said humanitarian aid has become a crucial instrument of Turkish foreign policy and a major source of Turkey’s normative power abroad.“In 2016, Turkey was the second largest source of humanitarian aid in the world, with a total of $6 billion distributed to various regions in need,” Atli told Arab News.

According to Atli, Turkey’s leading role in the Rohingya issue has two components: Humanitarian aid, including an open check, offered to Bangladesh to cover the costs of the refugees, and diplomatic initiatives, such as taking the issue to the UN and mobilizing the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). “These two components, implemented together, can be effective,” he said.

“In 2016, Turkey was the second largest source of humanitarian aid in the world, with a total of $6 billion distributed to various regions in need,” Atli told Arab News.

According to Atli, Turkey’s leading role in the Rohingya issue has two components: Humanitarian aid, including an open check, `offered to Bangladesh to cover the costs of the refugees, and diplomatic initiatives, such as taking the issue to the UN and mobilizing the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). “These two components, implemented together, can be effective,” he said.

 


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