International consultation meeting urges political solution to Rohingya crisis

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Turkey's capital Ankara on Friday hosted an international consultation meeting on the Rohingya crisis with a focus on the political and humanitarian solution to improve living conditions for refugees. Delivering an opening speech at the conference, Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ümit Yalçın said the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar's Rakhine state and Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar remains ongoing despite all the efforts that have been made.

"In addition to our efforts made on the humanitarian front, we must also increase our efforts on the political front, as responsible members of the international community," Yalçın said, as reported by Anadolu Agency (AA). There is a need for a comprehensive strategy to resolve the political, economic and human problems of Rohingya Muslims, he added.

Yalçın reiterated Turkey's gratitude to the Bangladeshi government for preventing a catastrophic humanitarian situation by opening its borders. However, he said all the efforts were still not enough.

The head of the EU delegation to Turkey Ambassador Christian Berger as well as senior officials from the United States, Australia, Bangladesh, Finland, the U.K, Switzerland, Japan, Canada, Qatar, Norway, Thailand and U.N. bodies attended the meeting. The representatives from Turkey's Health Ministry and other Turkish nonprofit organizations, including the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), Turkish Red Crescent and Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), also participated in the meeting. Around 6,000 refugees from the persecuted minority have been camping on the narrow stretch of land since fleeing a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar's west last August. An estimated 700,000 Rohingya have fled over the border to Bangladesh since an army crackdown was launched in Rakhine state in August. Myanmar blames Rohingya militants for an Aug. 25 strike on security posts in Rakhine state that triggered a fierce army crackdown. At least 9,000 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine state from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24, according to Doctors without Borders. In a report last December, the global humanitarian group said the deaths of 71.7 percent, or 6,700 Rohingya, were caused by violence. The death toll includes 730 children below the age of 5.

The U.N. has described the systematic violence by Myanmar against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state as possible genocide and ethnic cleansing. Calls for the international community to take measures against the "visible genocide" facing Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has increased as the monsoon season approaches.

The stateless Rohingya have been the target of communal violence and vicious anti-Muslim sentiment in mainly Buddhist Myanmar for years. Myanmar has denied citizenship to Rohingya since 1982 and excludes them from the 135 ethnic groups it officially recognizes, which effectively renders them stateless. The Rohingya trace their presence in Rakhine back centuries. But most people in majority-Buddhist Myanmar consider them to be unwanted Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh.

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