Turkey launches SMS service for Rohingya donations


A Turkish charity has distributed emergency aid to 80,000 Rohingya refugees in the last three weeks, it said Friday.

IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation's announcement came as Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdağ announced a SMS campaign to allow people to donate money to Rohingya.

"We want to give Bangladesh very serious and permanent support with our diplomatic efforts," he said in an interview with broadcaster TRT Haber.

"As we know, the Bangladeshi government wants those who arrived to return. They are also a poor country. If the Bangladeshi government shows understanding and good intention on this topic, we are ready to undertake the financial burden of this."

By texting the word "Arakan" to 1866, Turkish mobile phone users can automatically donate 10 Turkish liras ($2.90).

Arakan is an alternative name for Rakhine, the western Myanmar state that has seen around 400,000 Rohingya Muslims flee across the border since security forces launched a crackdown on Aug. 25.

Refugees have described security forces and Buddhist mobs killing men, women and children, looting homes and torching Rohingya villages.

According to Bangladesh, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the operation.

Turkey has been at the forefront of providing aid to Rohingya refugees and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he will raise the issue at the UN.

Akdağ said Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, Turkish Red Crescent and Diyanet Foundation had started a joint campaign for Rohingya via the website

Meanwhile, the IHH said it had distributed enough funding, tents, food, kitchenware and other household items and clothing for more than 9,000 families. It had also supplied building materials for shelters for 250 families.

Four wells have been dug in camps and the charity had provided transport for around 30 injured refugees, it added.

IHH is also offering a text donation service. Users should text "ARAKAN" to 3072 to donate 5 liras ($1.45).

"The International Organization for Migration estimates that the number of people migrating to Bangladesh may rise to 1 million by the end of this year," Munevver Huseyin, IHH's south Asia coordinator, said.

"People who are on their way to Bangladesh are surviving by eating leaves and plants. The number of bodies washed ashore has reached to 109."

Agencies operating in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, have appealed for $77.1 million to fund the emergency response until the end of the year.

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.

Last October, following attacks on border posts in Rakhine's Maungdaw district, security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.

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

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