Turkey to spend $50M on supporting Rohingya refugees

Pledging conference in Geneva hears Turkish commitment to helping thousands fleeing persecution in Myanmar

An international donor pledging conference for Rohingya Muslims who fled violence in Myanmar began on Monday with Turkey saying it would provide $50 million.

Turkey's ambassador to the UN office in Geneva, Naci Koru, told the conference: "Within the humanitarian assistance program, we plan to build medium-term shelter units for 100,000 people on a land of three million square meters, provide two field hospitals, 10 health and family health centers, deliver drinking water wells and water sanitation [plus] fresh food aid to the municipalities."

"Together with planned projects and deliveries, the total amount of humanitarian aid provided by Turkey will exceed $50 million," Koru added.

Noting that the Rohingya crisis would need immediate and coordinated action, Koru said: "On our part, we are committed to continue our support to Rohingya Muslims in close coordination with the authorities in Bangladesh."

Also on Monday, it was revealed that the Turkish Red Crescent had raised more than $5.4 million according to Mehmet Gulluoglu, the head of Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), speaking to Anadolu Agency.

AFAD itself has collected $16.2 million since 2012. Other Turkish aid groups, like IHH -- the Humanitarian Relief Foundation -- have also been active in helping Rohingya refugees.

Meanwhile, co-hosts, the EU, pledged additional €30 million ($35 million).

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said: "Two points are clear: First, we are facing a massive refugee crisis. It demands a comprehensive refugee response, based on global refugee response standards.

"My second point is that this is not an isolated crisis. It is the latest round in a decades-long cycle of persecution, violence and displacement.

"Serious violations continue in Rakhine. We continue to face severe access restrictions, crippling our ability to assess needs and to provide assistance."

International Organization for Migration director-general, William Lacy Swing, said: "We must in parallel also, however, urge world leaders to engage a political process that will allow these Rohingya refugees to return home voluntarily and to do so in conditions of safety, security, dignity and social cohesion, and we should insist with Myanmar officials that these conditions are met."

The UN says it needs $434 million for Rohingya refugees from September 2017 to February 2018.

So far, including with Monday morning's session of the donor conference, $340 million was pledged.