Turkey to help Myanmar's Red Cross amid Rohingya crisis


Turkish Red Crescent has signed an agreement with Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) for further cooperation to help the country overcome the humanitarian crisis in western Rakhine state, officials announced Wednesday.

More than 436,000 Rohingya have crossed from the northern part of Rakhine state into Bangladesh since the outbreak of a fresh violence on Aug. 25, according to the UN's migration agency's latest report, while the Myanmar government said ''about 50,000 non-Muslim villagers took shelter at police stations and Buddhist monasteries in Rakhine''.

The visiting Turkish Red Crescent's President Dr. Kerem Kinik said that the humanitarian aid society had been providing humanitarian assistance to newly arrived Rohingya civilians in Bangladesh.

Kinik said the Red Crescent had been working with MRCS since they signed an agreement after the violence broke out in Rakhine state in mid-2012.

"In the meantime, we decided to extend our humanitarian assistance to Myanmar. So we submitted our message to Myanmar authorities through Myanmar Red Cross Society," he told Anadolu Agency in Yangon, the commercial capital of the country.

MRCS agreed to the proposal after a discussion with his team on Tuesday, he said.

The memorandum of cooperation covers a range of areas such as contributing to capacity building for MRCS staff and humanitarian assistance for people affected by the conflict in Rakhine state as well as the whole country.

"But we will start with Rakhine state," Kinik added.

Kinik said land preparation work for the permanent camps for Rohingya refugees had already started in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazaar city.

"Within three or four months after land preparation, we will set up camps for the refugees there," he said, adding they would have to spend around $15 million for the permanent facilities which could be used by Bangladesh government for its own citizens after the Rohingya refugees go back to Rakhine state.

The refugees are fleeing a military operation in which Myanmar's armed forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages. According to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.

Turkey has been at the forefront of providing aid to Rohingya refugees; and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan highlighted the issue at this year's UN General Assembly.

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.

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