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First Turkish aid shipment arrives in Myanmar

A Turkish ship carrying food aid and equipment for Gaza has arrived at Israel's port prior to entering the Gaza Strip on 21 June 2017 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]
A Turkish aid ship (file photo) [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

Turkey’s first shipment of humanitarian aid arrived Wednesday in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) confirmed.

The 1,000 tons of emergency aid packages containing rice, dried fish and clothing were delivered to the Social Services Ministry in Rakhine State at a handover ceremony, according to the statement.

The aid will be distributed to conflict areas via military helicopters in coordination with the Rakhine State government as uncertainty and security concerns continue in the region.

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Myanmar on Tuesday allowed TIKA to distribute the aid to Rohingya Muslims in the state, according to Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin.

Kalin said in a written statement that the permission from Myanmar came hours after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s telephone discussion with Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi on recent human rights violations in Rakhine.

The move makes TIKA the first foreign aid agency to get permission from the government to enter the region since the latest violence began on Aug. 25.

According to the UN, 123,600 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh and tens of thousands more were internally displaced by the latest violence.

Tensions have been simmering in Rakhine between its Buddhist and Muslim populations since communal violence broke out in 2012.

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In a security crackdown launched last October in the state’s northern Maungdaw district, the UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings — including infants and young children — brutal beatings and disappearances.

The report found evidence of human rights violations by security forces that indicated crimes against humanity.

Rohingya representatives have said that around 400 people were killed in the crackdown.

In recent weeks, the government has boosted its military presence in Maungdaw, and the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) claimed responsibility for attacks in which the government said dozens were killed.

The ARSA said the attacks were in response to raids, killings and looting by soldiers.

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