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20 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Turkey and the Rohingya crisis: “Yet another example of its enterprising and humanitarian diplomacy”

A lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis is a priority, both for us and the international community. And clearly, this is only possible with safe and dignified return of Rohingyas to Myanmar
Devrim Ozturk
Turkey and the Rohingya crisis: “Yet another example of its enterprising and humanitarian diplomacy”

As it is known widely in Bangladesh, Turkey is closely following the Rohingya crisis. In our own capacity, we are deeply engagedwith this issue, both in terms of lasting political solution and humanitarian assistance to the refugees.As a country that hosts the world’s largest refugee population, due to the massive displacement caused by the conflict in Syria, we understand and acknowledge the immense challenges faced by Bangladesh in this crisis. Turkey has been the staunchest supporter of Bangladesh regarding the Rohingya crisis. Prime Minister Hasina and her government, as well as the people of Bangladesh, are displaying an indispensable humanitarian virtue and resolve for helping these stateless people. President Erdogan has repeatedly emphasized that the suffering of the Rohingya people should not only be important for Bangladesh or Muslim countries, but also should be a concern for the international community, as a whole.

Unfortunately, the Rohinga community has been trapped in a vicious cycle of violence and forced displacement for decades. Their plight has always been high on Turkey’s agenda. Following the crisis on 25 August 2017, First Lady Emine Erdogan was one of the first international personalities to visit the Rohingya people in Bangladesh, only few days after the crisis.She has recently received the “Humanitarian Service Recognition Award” by the World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists at the Global Donors Forum in London.We have been tremendously active on the field with the invaluable efforts of our humanitarian officials and volunteers, both from public institutions and NGO’s. Our state development agency TIKA, our national disaster management authority AFAD, the Turkish Red Crescent, the Turkish Diyanet Foundation and countless NGO’s from Turkey have been involved in many humanitarian activities, from nutrition to health and education, in cooperation with the government of Bangladesh and the relevant UN agencies. Additionally, we have set up a field hospital in Cox’s Bazar, which is operated by Turkish doctors and nurses since February 2018.

The Turkish nation has an enduring tradition of humanitarian aid emanating from its history and culture. In this sense, Turkey regards helping countries in difficult times due to natural disasters, war, poverty and social clashes as a humanitarian duty and an important element in achieving stable international community. In the words of Foreign Minister MevlutCavusoglu, Turkey takes initiatives with an “enterprising and humanitarian foreign policy” approach. According to the Global Humanitarian Assistance Report in 2016, Turkey has become the 2nd biggest donor country of the world following the USA. Turkey also became the “most generous country”, taking into consideration the ratio of Turkish official humanitarian assistance to its national income in the same year.In 2017, Turkey’s humanitarian assistance reached to 8 billion US Dollars, which makes it the biggest donor country above all the other countries.

A lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis is a priority, both for us and the international community. And clearly, this is only possible with safe and dignified return of Rohingyas to Myanmar. We are aware that there is no other solution to this tragedy. In this vein, we have welcomedlast year’s agreement reached between Bangladesh and Myanmar on repatriation. Having said that, as one year is left behind, the world is still waiting concretesteps from Myanmar. We are closely following the developments in this realm.

We indeed need a new model of predictable and equitable responsibility sharing. Proximity should not directly entail responsibility. Although in different parts of the world, Turkey and Bangladesh similarly bear the brunt of emergency situations next door.   

As an effort to evaluate the state of play at political and humanitarian fronts amongst likeminded countries after the outbreak of the Rohingya Crisis, Turkey has hosted the Meeting of the International Rohingya Consultations Group on 6 July 2018 in Ankara. Delegations fromBangladesh, Australia,Canada, Finland, Gambia, Indonesia, Malaysia Norway, Qatar, the United Kingdom, USA, Thailand, EU, OIC, UN and WHO have participated in the meeting and Japanese and Swiss delegations have also attended as observers.

In the meeting, participants mainly discussed immediate measures to be taken by the international community with a view to preventing an oncoming humanitarian catastrophe and alleviating the burden on Bangladesh.

Participants also discussed the ways in which the international community may contribute to accelerating implementation of the arrangement between Bangladesh and Myanmar on the return of refugees and resolving the issues between Rohingya Muslims and ethnic Buddhists in Rakhine State to pave the way for their peaceful co-existence. In light of these discussions, we encouraged the international community to initiate new projects particularly oriented for women and children, including education and skill building.The accountability issue was also in our agenda. For the way forward, accountability remains crucial. It is not only about mere punishment. Indeed the victims need justice and closure. But accountability is more than that, it is a primary guarantee for preventing the re-occurrence of such crimes in the future.   This month, there will be many high level side events on the margins of the UN General Assembly regarding the Rohingya issue. Namely, the Ministerial Working Lunch, First Ministerial Meeting of the International Myanmar Working Group, OIC Rohingya Contact Group meeting and the High Level Side Event on Rohingya Muslims. We attach utmost importance to all these meetings.

Last but not the least, I would like to remind you that Turkey will always be committed to continue its humanitarian and political support both to Bangladesh and the Rohingya people. And we will remain committed until this crisis is resolved with dignity of the Rohingya people.

The writer is Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to Bangladesh

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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