BAKU (Reuters) - Turkey’s foreign minister called on Wednesday for a lasting solution to the plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims who he said had been living for years in “open prisons”, ahead of his visit to neighboring Bangladesh to discuss the crisis.
President Tayyip Erdogan, who leads Turkey’s Islamist-rooted AK Party, has been fiercely critical of Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingyas, saying they have been subjected to genocide.
The latest violence began on Aug. 25, when Rohingya insurgents attacked dozens of police posts and an army base. The ensuing clashes and a military counter-offensive have killed at least 400 people.
After Erdogan spoke to Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday, Turkey said it would deliver 1,000 tonnes of food, medicine and clothing to the afflicted northwestern region of Rakhine.
Around 150,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh, where Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is due to arrive later for talks on Thursday about tackling the crisis.
Cavusoglu said he would visit the border region to assess the humanitarian needs there, adding that Turkey would also provide ambulances and other equipment.
“We will not leave these people alone here. However, we need to find a lasting solution to the problem in Rakhine,” he said. “There have been events and cruelties before as well, many people died or had to leave their homes.”
“I went to Rakhine two years ago as well, and they literally live in open prisons covered in mud. It is unacceptable for people to live under these conditions in this day and age.”
Suu Kyi has faced increasing pressure from countries with Muslim populations to halt the violence against Rohingya Muslims which has prompted their flight to Bangladesh.
Erdogan, whose wife and a son will accompany Cavusoglu to Bangladesh, said this week he had spoken to 20 world leaders about the issue, and would press for it to be discussed at the United Nations later this month.
Turkey has said its state aid agency TIKA would start the first foreign aid deliveries to Rakhine on Wednesday.
Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Alison Williams