Ankara calls on Myanmar to help Rohingya Muslims return

Published 26.10.2017 00:28
Updated 19.12.2017 15:02

Turkey's Ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva Naci Koru yesterday called on Myanmar to help Rohingya refugees return home from Bangladesh.

"I hope the Myanmar government will pay attention to these warnings and that Rohingya Muslims living in harsh conditions in Bangladesh will be able to return to their homes. We hope this will happen," Koru told Anadolu Agency (AA) in Geneva.

Koru's comments come after an international donor-pledging conference for Rohingya Muslims ended on Monday, where Turkey said it would provide $50 million for the refugees. "Turkey will never abandon Rohingya Muslims to their fate," Koru said.

The U.N. has repeatedly requested that the Myanmar government help in the returning of Rohingya refugees to their homes.

More than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have crossed from the western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh according to the U.N., as security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages.

Noting that Turkey has helped the Rohingya refugees since the beginning of the most recent crisis, Koru said Myanmar and Bangladesh would play critical roles in helping refugees return to their homes.

The U.N. high commissioner for refugees hailed Turkey on Monday as "a generous humanitarian donor" after it pledged to support Rohingya refugees. "I would like to say that Turkey continues to be a generous humanitarian donor globally, besides being the largest refugee-hosting country in the world," Filippo Grandi told AA in Geneva on Monday.

Koru said at the conference that "Within the humanitarian assistance program, we plan to build medium-term shelter units for 100,000 people on 3 million square meters of land, provide two field hospitals, 10 health and family health centers, drinking water wells and water sanitation [plus] fresh food in aid to the municipalities."

In Bangladesh, Turkey has been particularly prominent since hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims began to flee a military crackdown in western Myanmar at the end of August.

According to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, around 3,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed in the crackdown.

In September, Turkey's first lady Emine Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu visited a refugee camp near the Myanmar border and called on the international community to intervene to stop the violence.

Turkey spent $6 billion on humanitarian aid in 2016

Turkey has supported millions of refugees in recent years as the U.N.'s refugee agency reporting that around 65.6 million people were displaced at the end of 2016 due to conflict, hunger and poverty. Last year, Ankara spent more than $6 billion on humanitarian aid, according to the Development Initiatives' Global Humanitarian Assistance Report, making Turkey the largest donor according to gross domestic product (GDP) and second only to the U.S. in total funding.

According to official statistics, Turkey currently hosts more than 3.4 million Syrians who have fled north since the beginning of the civil war in 2011. Ankara calculates that it has spent at least $30 billion in sheltering and providing for these refugees.

After the Syrian crisis broke out, Turkey established an open-door policy for refugees and welcomed all, regardless of religion or ethnicity. It has also opened its borders to refugees fleeing conflict zones in Iraq, Somalia and Myanmar in recent years.

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