By Sorwar Alam
Bangladesh’s disaster management and relief minister on Wednesday thanked the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) for its humanitarian aid to Rohingya refugees in the country’s south, according to a statement from TIKA.
During his visit to TIKA’s headquarters in Ankara, Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury also applauded the agency for its support to local Bangladeshis in the northern part of the country who suffered a devastating flood in recent months, the statement said.
Chowdhury noted that Turkish First Lady Emine Erdogan had visited Bangladesh immediately after the Rohingya crisis erupted in late August and paved the way for humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya community by calling on the international community to provide emergency aid.
Chowdhury said TİKA had established kitchens in the camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar District and provided food to 20,000 refugees.
He added that Bangladesh’s government was also doing its best to meet the needs of around 1 million refugees in several areas of the district.
“The incidents in Arakan [in Rakhine State] are not only our problem but also a problem for the whole world, the entire Islamic world. So we have to act together at this point. As Turkey, we already know, you are doing your best and thank you [for this],” the statement cited Chowdhury as saying.
TIKA's President Serdar Cam said they had prepared some projects to increase development cooperation between Turkey and Bangladesh but their focus had turned to supplying humanitarian aid following the Rohingya crisis.
He also explained TIKA’s activities around the world, noting the agency had developed 20,000 projects in nearly 60 countries.
“We have shared our experience in every area of a person’s life -- from education to health care,” he said, according to the statement.
“We never plan the needs of a country at the desk. We prepare projects by talking with experts of that country. We work without having any secret agenda. Through our work, we want to contribute to the development of relations between the two countries,” Cam added.
He said TIKA would contribute with more long-lasting projects in Bangladesh when the humanitarian aid needs for Rohingya refugees decreased.
In addition to Turkey’s current assistance to Rohingya refugees, Ankara will build 5,000 additional prefabricated homes, up from the previously promised 20,000 homes, two field hospitals and 10 medical centers in Cox’s Bazar, according to a statement Tuesday from Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdag.
In a meeting with Chowdhury in Ankara, Akdag said: “Turkey had promised to build 20,000 prefabricated homes for 100,000 people. We decided to increase this to 25,000, so we will be able to serve almost 125,000 people.”
Since Aug. 25 about 621,000 Rohingya refugees have arrived in Cox’s Bazar, fleeing violence in Myanmar.
According to the UN, the total Rohingya refugee population in the area is now over 834,000.
They are fleeing a military crackdown in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages.
According to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.
Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings and disappearances committed by security personnel.
In a recent report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.