Turkey to start first foreign aid distribution in Myanmar
Turkey will begin its first delivery of aid to southwestern Myanmar, where hundreds of people have been killed following a violent military crackdown against the Rohingya people.
The announcement of aid comes as nearly 125,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled over the border to Bangladesh in the last ten days.
A spokesman for President Tayyip Erdogan, who has described the violence against Rohingya Muslims there as genocide, said the deliveries were approved after Erdogan spoke by phone with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday.
Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said 1,000 tonnes of food, clothes and medicine would be distributed by military helicopters.
He said Myanmar had given approval for officials from Turkey's state aid agency TIKA to enter the country and 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.
Protests took place in Chechnya, Turkey and parts of Europe against the ongoing persecution of the Rohingya people.
Reuters reporters saw hundreds more exhausted Rohingya arriving on boats near the Bangladeshi border village of Shamlapur on Tuesday, suggesting the exodus was far from over.
Erdogan told Suu Kyi that the violence against the Rohingya was a violation of human rights and that the Muslim world was deeply concerned, Turkish presidential sources said.
Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi, in Dhaka to discuss aid for the fleeing Rohingya, met her Bangladeshi counterpart, Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, a day after urging Suu Kyi and Myanmar army chief Min Aung Hlaing to halt the bloodshed.
The latest violence in Myanmar's northwestern Rakhine state began on 25 August, when Rohingya rebels attacked dozens of police posts and an army base. The ensuing clashes and a military counter-offensive have killed hundreds.
Erdogan on Friday said it was Turkey's moral responsibility to take a stand over the events in Myanmar.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will travel to Bangladesh on Wednesday evening and hold meetings on Thursday, Turkish sources said.