Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says his visit aims to mainly address the Rohingya crisis, as well as boost relations between the two nations.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Monday travelled to Dhaka where he plans to meet Bangladeshi officials in the first high-level visit from Turkey since a mass influx of Rohingya refugees took place in late August.
More than 436,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar for Bangladesh due to violence at the hands of Myanmar’s armed forces and Buddhist mobs, according to a United Nations report published in late September.
"Hundreds of thousands of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims were forced to seek refuge in Bangladesh after facing violence and massacres they were subjected to. I once more applaud the Bangladeshi government for not leaving them [Rohingya] alone," Yildirim said, in a news conference ahead of his official visit to Bangladesh.
Turkey was the first foreign country that responded to the humanitarian crisis of Rohingya Muslims who are considered by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people.
In early September, Turkey’s First Lady Emine Erdogan visited a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Yildirim’s visit on Monday marks one of the few visits by high-level government officials from foreign countries. He will be also the first prime minister to visit a Rohingya refugee camp.
With new arrivals in 2017, the Rohingya refugee population is now at more than 850,000 people in camps around the Bangladeshi border town of Cox's Bazar, according to data by the UN.
The dramatic rise in the number of refugees has increased the demand for shelter, food, health centres and schools for children, who comprise most of the refugees.
Turkey had already promised to build a shelter for 100,000 people, which means it would have to provide 20,000 prefabricated homes.
Last month, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdag announced that Ankara decided to build 5,000 more homes for an additional 25,0000 people, adding that 100,000 housing units would be completed by the end of 2017.
Three Turkish organisations─the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), the Turkish Red Crescent and the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA)─as well as NGOs, have been delivering Turkish aid to the Rohingya Muslims both in Myanmar and Bangladesh.
“We have spent 200 million Turkish liras ($52 million) for the Rohingya Muslims since 2012 for building shelters, schools, and hospitals,” the Turkish Red Crescent spokesman told TRT World.
He also said the Red Crescent has reached more than 100,000 people to distribute aid.
Ankara also plans to build schools and hospitals in the camps. Turkish professors hope to train local school teachers, and there are also plans to send Turkish doctors on a rotating basis.
Small numbers of refugees are still fleeing military action in Myanmar, where armed forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages.
Around 3,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed in the crackdown since August.