Turkish first lady to visit Bangladesh to meet Rohingya
Turkey's first lady will visit Bangladesh on Wednesday to meet Rohingya Muslims who fled persecution in Myanmar's Rakhine state.
"Mrs. Emine Erdogan will travel to Bangladesh today where she will meet our Muslim brothers who fled oppression in Arakan" or Rakhine state, Deputy Prime Minister Hakan Cavusoglu said in a live interview with Turkish broadcaster ATV on Wednesday.
"Many of our Muslim brothers have taken shelter in Bangladesh after fleeing persecution in the region."
Cavusoglu noted that President Erdogan, who is also the term president of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), has been discussing the issue with several Muslim leaders to find a solution.
Myanmar's government on Tuesday allowed the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) to distribute 1,000 tons of aid to Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.
The permission from Myanmar came hours after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's telephone call with Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi on the recent violations of human rights in Rakhine.
As uncertainty and security concerns continue in the region, the aid will be distributed to conflict areas via military helicopters in coordination with the Rakhine state government, Cavusoglu said.
"The helicopters will land on the ground. And the distribution will be done from the ground."
He said that TIKA has two coordination offices in the region and that two of its officials would travel there by helicopter to monitor the distribution process.
"We will supply vital needs to 100,000 families."
"Emergency needs will be provided for now. In addition to this, discussions [with the authorities] are underway. We will continue our cooperation to supply medicine and similar vital needs," he added.
Cavusoglu said the humanitarian assistance may have already started to be distributed in the region.
He added that this would not be a one-time event as Turkey wants to continue to supply the necessary humanitarian aid to the region.
"Not only to deliver food supplies or vital needs, but I presume that, as the result of the influential diplomacy from our honorable president, the other problems would be solved in the region as well, as it would be the beginning of solving the political problems too. Because if we look at his telephone discussion, it is obvious that the humanitarian situation, terrorist groups in the region, the future of the region are all cited. So this is the key," he added.
Separately from the first lady's visit, a Turkish delegation including Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and TIKA head Serdar Cam is to visit Bangladesh on Wednesday and are scheduled to meet Rohingya in the Cox's Bazar district of southeastern Bangladesh.
- Nearly 125,000 fled to Bangladesh
According to the UN on Tuesday, 123,600 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh, as tens of thousands more were internally displaced by the latest violence.
Rakhine, which lies in western Myanmar, 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 has 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 numbers 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.