Turkey supports Bangladesh during Rohingya crisis: FM

By Tugcenur Yilmaz

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) – Turkey is supporting us on the Rohingya crisis, said the Bangladeshi foreign minister on Sunday.

As part of the “Visit Bangladesh 2018” program, Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali met around 50 reporters from Turkey, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Oman, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Philippines and South Korea in the capital city of Dhaka.

Expressing pleasure over the September 2017 visit of a delegation with the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s wife Emine Erdogan to the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, he said: “Turkey is supporting us. There are a lot of plans regarding the Rohingya issue.”

He said Turkey had built a hospital in the region for the persecuted Rohingya and carried out numerous activities in many fields.

Turkey was in the forefront of Rohingya issue on the ground with its state-sponsored humanitarian aid institutions and nongovernmental charity organization as well as on international level by organizing emergency meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and advocating for Rohingya at the UN General Assembly.

Turkish aid agencies have been building thousands of shelters for Rohingya in the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar area while the Turkish Red Crescent has been providing food to thousands of Rohingya in the camps on a daily basis.

Former Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim visited Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar, launching a 50-bed field hospital last December.

Stating that some of the Rohingya, who are staying in the camps in Cox’s Bazar, will be relocated to Bhasan Char, a remote island in the Bay of Bengal, due to the population density in the camps, Ali said they were still working on the project and the plan was going to be realized once the houses on the island are ready.

Recalling their visit to the Rohingya villages in the western Rakhine state of Myanmar in August, he said: “The Indian government has built 250 houses for the Rohingya there. The Chinese government will build a thousand houses.

“I told them to build the houses in the places where the Rohingya came from.”

The Bangladeshi FM also reiterated his government’s insistence on the safe repatriation of the Rohingya.

Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a deal for the return of refugees earlier this year, but with the repatriation delayed, concern is growing over the lack of involvement by international organizations in the process.

While asking about the exact date of the repatriation, Ali said it was an ongoing process.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience".

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children, and women, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.