Turkish aid agencies on Sunday distributed food at the Bangladesh border to the Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state.
The food packages, including rice, oil, chickpeas, flour, salt and sugar, were distributed to 1,300 families at the Balukali, one of the five major refugee camps along the border.
A 1982 law passed in Myanmar in denied Rohingya — many of whom have lived in Myanmar for generations — citizenship, making them stateless, removing their freedom of movement, access to education, services, and allowing arbitrary confiscation of their property.
Describing the field as “very difficult” for the refugees, Turkish Red Crescent President Kerem Kinik said there are over 400,000 Rohingya Muslims at the Bangladesh borders, most of them are not able to get proper materials for hygiene, food and health care.
The Turkish Red Crescent teams are holding talks with Bangladesh authorities to determine the needs of the refugees and to pave the way for aid.
Kinik said that the Turkish Red Crescent has agreed with the government of Bangladesh to build a “more permanent and developed” camp.
“This camp is going to be like a city which will host nearly 100,000 Rohingya refugees in a lot better conditions such as proper infrastructure, health services, schools and religious services and a hospital,” Kinik said. “This camp will allow Turkey to provide better humanetarian assistance for those in need.”
The agency has been taking aid to Rakhine State since 2012 and has a branch there.
Meanwhile, volunteers from other aid agencies such as IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, Sadaka Tasi, Intenational Assistance and Development Association (ONSUR) also provided service at the camps.
“People are here in terrible conditions as you see, that’s why we are here to help them out as much as we can,” said Haci Dursun Tunc, a volunteer coordinator from the Turkish aid agency, Sadaka Tasi.
Tunc said he came to the region four days ago with his friends from Turkey and “would do anything to make them feel better, even it is really hard to achieve.”
Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
Last October, following attacks on border posts in Rakhine’s Maungdaw district, Myanmar security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.
The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings — including infants and young children — brutal beatings and disappearances committed by security personnel.
In a report, UN investigators said the human rights violations constituted crimes against humanity.Fresh violence erupted in Rakhine state nearly two weeks ago when security forces launched an operation against the Rohingya.
Bangladesh, which already hosted around 400,000 Rohingya refugees, has faced a fresh influx of refugees since the security operation was launched.According to the UN, 270,000 Rohingya have sought refuge in Bangladesh as of Friday.