Turkey offers help for Rohingya Muslims

Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu says Turkey is ready to provide aid for Rohingya Muslims in Andaman Sea

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has offered assistance to Malaysia and Indonesia in building settlement centers for Rohingya Muslims, speaking on Thursday at a meeting with his Malaysian counterpart Anifah Aman.

Cavusoglu has been in Kuwait for the 42nd meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

"Turkey will help [the two countries] about building settlement centers and provide material and technical support for infrastructure," said Cavusoglu, stating that the offer was welcomed by the two countries.

"The issue of the Rohingya should be handled in a long-term perspective and brought to the agenda of international agencies," Cavusoglu said.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had previously announced that a Turkish military ship had been sent to help rescue Rohingya Muslims stuck in boats at sea off the coast of Thailand.

Cavusoglu had already pledged a $1 million contribution toward the efforts of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to help Rohingya Muslims.

An estimated 1,700 Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants landed in Indonesia and another 1,100 in Malaysia days after stranded in the Andaman sea in early May, according to United Nations (UN).

Officials from both countries have since clarified that they would shelter the migrants for one year. A number of countries, including Turkey and the US, have also come forward to join efforts to help.

Rohingya Muslims have lived in Myanmar since the 18th century but were denied citizenship in the country in 1982 and branded as illegal immigrants.

They have been described as the most persecuted people on the planet and “virtually friendless" by the UN.

Thousands of stateless Rohingya Muslims, who are denied citizenship, have fled violence and poverty in Myanmar since 2012 after the attacks by Buddhist mobs.  

More than 100,000 men, women, and children have been subjected to forced migration. Most travel in boats to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, where they suffer from human traffickers and smugglers.

On May 1, the bodies of more than 30 of migrants - most of them Rohingya Muslims - were discovered in southern Thailand, victims of human traffickers.

TRTWorld and agencies