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The New Arab

Turkey to begin first foreign aid deliveries to Rohingya Muslims

Nearly 125,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees have fled to Bangladesh since 25 August. [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 September, 2017

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Turkey is set to begin the first foreign deliveries of aid on Wednesday to Rohingya Muslims fleeing unrest in north-western Myanmar, a presidential spokesman said.
Turkey is set to begin the first foreign deliveries of aid on Wednesday to Rohingya Muslims fleeing ethnic violence in north-western Myanmar, a presidential spokesman said.

Nearly 125,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees have fled to Bangladesh since the country's military sent hundreds of new troops to Rakhine state earlier this month.

Reports have surfaced of the Myanmar government banning aid deliveries to Rakhine, while satellite imagery of entire villages burning has also emerged.

A spokesman for President Tayyip Erdogan, who has described the violence against Rohingya Muslims there as genocide, said the aid deliveries were approved after Erdogan spoke by phone with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday.

Over 1,000 tonnes of food, clothes and medicine would be distributed by military helicopters, spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said.

Myanmar has given approval for officials from Turkey's state aid agency TIKA to enter the country to deliver the assistance in coordination with local authorities in Rakhine state.

Suu Kyi has faced increasing pressure from countries with Muslim populations to halt the violence against Rohingya Muslims which has prompted their flight to Bangladesh.

Erdogan told Suu Kyi during their conversation that the violence against the Rohingya was a violation of human rights and that the Muslim world was deeply concerned, Turkish presidential sources said.

The Turkish first lady Emine Erdogan is set to visit Bangladesh on Wednesday to meet with Rohingya Muslims who have fled the violence.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will also travel to Bangladesh on Wednesday evening and hold meetings on Thursday, Turkish sources said.

The Rohingya are seen as illegal immigrants in Myanmar and have suffered decades of persecution, according to rights groups.

Most Rohingya are denied citizenship and other rights the country's Buddhist majority enjoy, living in abject poverty with little access to aid.

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