Turkish minister visits Rohingya camps in Bangladesh

Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmuş visited Rohingya refugee camps in southeast Bangladesh on Wednesday.

Addressing Rohingya Muslims living at refugee camps in southeastern district of Cox's Bazar, Kurtulmuş said: "Your emigration is similar to the emigration of Prophet Muhammad. You faced persecution only for saying 'Allah'. This is an honor for you. But to be an onlooker to this persecution is a disgrace for all humanity."

Cox's Bazar has been hosting around a million refugees, including more than 650,000 people who came to Bangladesh following violence in the Rakhine state of western Myanmar last year.

The minister later distributed food at the Maynargona 2 Camp, which hosts around 25,000 people.

He also opened a field hospital at another camp established by the Turkish Health Ministry and the Emergency and Rescue Management Authority (AFAD).

The minister also observed aid activities of the Turkish Diyanet Foundation and the Turkish Red Crescent.

He spoke with some refugees and listened to their painful stories. Kurtulmuş also visited another camp built by the Istanbul-based IHH Humanitarian Aid Foundation.

The IHH has built 4,000 shelters for refugees in the area and aims to build 1,000 more shelters by the end of February.

- REFUGEES PRAISE TURKEY
Muhammad Jubair, a 40-year-old Rohingya who was forced to flee to Bangladesh four months ago, explained his perilous journey following the brutality of the current Myanmar government.

"We have been living in oppression since 1970. They [the military] gathered us in an army place. They burnt our village. We began to flee; 105 people died. They raped our women.

"We have arrived here after 14 days of walking. Turkey helps us. May Allah bless Turkey," Jubair said.

Before his visit to Cox's Bazar, Kurtulmuş met Bangladeshi officials in capital Dhaka where he also attended a tourism conference organized by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

More than 650,000 refugees, mostly children, and women have fled Myanmar since Aug. 25, 2017, when Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community, according to the UN.

At least 9,000 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine state between Aug. 25, 2017 and Sept. 24, 2017, according to Doctors Without Borders.

In a report published on Dec. 12, 2017, the global humanitarian organization said the deaths of 71.7 percent or 6,700 Rohingya were caused by violence.

They include 730 children below the age of 5. The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings, including of infants and young children, brutal beatings and disappearances carried out by security personnel.

In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.