Bangladesh is grateful to Turkey for being the first Muslim country to offer help in the Rakhine crisis, Bangladesh's envoy to Turkey said Tuesday.
"Bangladesh appreciates Turkey's proactive role and support in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation [OIC] to enhance the interests of the Muslim Ummah [nation] and their support for Bangladesh on the Rohingya crisis," Ambassador M. Allama Siddiki said at a press meeting in Istanbul, referring to President Recep Taayip Erdoğan's speech at the OIC summit last September.
At the height of the crisis, President Erdoğan urged Muslims around the world to unite in the face of several regional crises and challenges at the OIC Science and Technology Summit in Astana, indicating that Muslim countries should work together to end the suffering of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
Touching on Bangladesh's role in the crisis, Ambassador Siddiki said that Bangladesh has set a unique example by providing shelter to millions of forcibly displaced Rakhine Muslims with the principle of "Friendship to all, malice to none."
"However, it is very difficult for Bangladesh to bear the burden of such a huge homeless people," Siddiki said, while pointing out that Bangladesh has repeatedly had to bear the burden of the conflict in Rakhine state by welcoming Rakhine Muslims each time since 1978, when the first crisis occurred.
Currently, there are approximately 1 million Rohingya Muslims living in Bangladesh, whom, the envoy said, were accepted for a short period of time and now cause major problems for Bangladesh both economically and demographically.
Stressing that Myanmar is the one that should take the necessary steps to overcome the problem, Siddiki said an arrangement was signed with the Myanmar authorities for the repatriation of Rohingya Muslims.
"Accordingly, the process is expected to start soon with 1,500 refugees going back each week initially. The momentum is expected to escalate with time, completing the return of about 800,000 people in two years," the envoy indicated.
Following a military crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state on Aug. 25, an exodus of refugees sought shelter in Bangladesh. The number of refugees has reached 800,000 on the Bangladeshi border, and the government has been struggling to meet the basic needs of the refugees.
During the ongoing crisis, more than 100,000 houses have been burned, and nearly 3,000 people have been killed. Rohingya, described by the U.N. as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012. The U.N. documented mass gang rape, killings, including infants and children, brutal beatings and disappearances committed by security personnel. The refugees are fleeing a military operation that has seen security forces and Buddhist mobs kill men, women and children, loot homes and torch Rohingya villages. In a recent report, U.N. investigators said such violations might have constituted crimes against humanity.
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