Our stance on Rohingya is humanistic: Turkish diplomat
Turkey doesn't have any expectations, but is helping Rohingya Muslims just because of "our humanitarian stance", a Turkish diplomat said after his one-day visit to the region on Monday to see conditions there.
Kerem Divanlıoğlu, Turkey's ambassador to Myanmar, was part of a 48-person team including UN officials and foreign diplomats based in the commercial capital, Yangon, who visited the Maungdaw area of Rakhine state on Oct. 2.
Sharing his impressions of the region with Anadolu Agency, Divanlıoğlu said that before recent developments, around 90 percent of the Maungdaw district's population was Rohingya Muslim with a small percentage of Buddhists.
"There are approximately 800,000 Muslims from northern Rakhine, and 500,000 of them are currently in Bangladesh," he said.
"When we were flying over northern Arakan [Rakhine state], I saw many villages that were completely destroyed," he told, adding that only five Muslim villages in the Rathidaung district were habitable.
In one of the villages where he visited local Muslims, Ah Nauk Pyin, people told the ambassador that they "are surrounded by Buddhists."
"We want safety and food," the ambassador quoted the locals as telling him.
"Myanmar officials promised to ensure security and deliver food aid within two days," Divanlıoğlu said.
Saying that fear and insecurity dominate the region, the ambassador urged Myanmar to continue taking steps for those who fled to Bangladesh to return to their villages.
The ambassador also recalled how in October 2016, a UN investigation team was not given access to the area.
"That is a very big problem," he said, calling on the Myanmar government to take the initiative on the matter.
"What the international community really expects is that the UN mission should be allowed access to the region."
The ambassador reiterated how Turkey has been at the forefront of providing aid to Rohingya refugees, and recalled that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised the issue at the UN.
Divanlıoğlu stressed Turkey's "humanitarian stance" on the issue, saying that it would continue to raise the issue on the international stage.
"We've kept the dialogue channels open with Myanmar authorities," he said. "Both Myanmar and Arakan Muslims know that Turkey doesn't have any agenda there, but that we only want to help them in a humanistic way."
Also speaking about how Rohingya Muslims expressed their respect and gratitude to Turkey, he said:
"Our stance on this crisis is to motivate the international community, to continue our dialogue with Myanmar, and to support Rohingya Muslims, who see Turkey as their only hope."