Turkish aid agency offers a lifeline to Rohingya Muslims

ANKARA: As nearly 150,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to neighboring Bangladesh and tens of thousands were internally displaced due to a risk of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, Turkey extends a helping hand to the Muslim minority on humanitarian and diplomatic platforms.

Following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s telephon conversation with Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Su Kyi on Monday, Myanmar allowed Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), a Turkish aid agency, to distribute 1,000 tons of aid to Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin announced. Kalin also said that Turkey plans to deliver aid initially to 100,000 families in coordination with the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh.

TIKA will be the first foreign agency to distribute aid to the Rohingya despite the Myanmar government’s doubts about the international aid organizations that were accused by Kyi of helping terrorism in the country.

On the diplomatic front, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Turkey’s First Lady Emine Erdogan are expected to visit Cox’s Bazar district in Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar on Sept. 6-8 to observe the on-site situation of thousands of Rohingya who have taken shelter there. In a speech in Istanbul at the weekend, Erdogan accused Myanmar of committing genocide against Muslims…

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