Claim: International aid agencies help Rohingya more than Erdogan

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Claim: International aid agencies help Rohingya more than Erdogan

2017-09-13 12:49 BST
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DW article claims international aid agencies help Rohingya Muslims more than Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

The Turkish president's wife Emine Erdogan with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu distributing aid to Rohingya Muslims

On 11 September 2017, Deutsche Welle (DW) published an article in which it was claimed that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is doing less for Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar than international aid agencies.

“International aid agencies are helping the Rohingya more, both inside Myanmar and in Bangladeshi refugee camps, than slogan-raising jihadi groups, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi,” the article read, grouping together President Erdogan with “slogan-raising jihadi groups.”

Although Fact-Checking Turkey could not find statistics about the spending of international aid agencies to compare with that of Turkey in the latest crisis, Turkey has been one of the quickest countries to deliver humanitarian aid for the Rohingya refugees. Its significant contribution to the humanitarian aid sector is well-documented as well.

On 7 September 2017, the Turkish president’s wife Emine Erdogan visited the Rohingya in Myanmar’s Rakhine for the second time, the first taking place in 2012, with a team of high-ranking officials including Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, and distributed aid. The Turkish team led by Emine Erdogan was the first to pay such a high-level visit to the Rakhine State from the Western world since the latest reports of atrocities targeting Rohingya Muslims began.

After Bangladesh showed a reluctance to accept the Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called on Bangladeshi authorities to “open your doors” for the refugees and said that Turkey will cover all of the expenses of hosting them. President Erdogan spoke by telephone with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and said on another occasion that he will raise the issue during the UN General Assembly on 12 September in New York.

Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) delivered 1,000 tons of humanitarian aid to the Rohingya Muslims after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke with Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi about the incidents. Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey plans to reach out to 100,000 families in Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Furthermore, in strict contrast to the allegations undervaluing Turkey’s efforts to help Rohingya Muslims, TIKA has been “the first foreign aid agency to get permission from the government [of Myanmar] to enter the region since the latest violence began on Aug. 25.”

Turkey’s humanitarian efforts reached its zenith during the Syrian crisis. The country currently hosts the largest number of refugees around the world – more than 3.4 million – and has spent $25 billion while the EU, consisting of 28 states, delivered $2.9 billion to help Turkey. Half of Turkey’s expenditures was covered by the state whereas the other half was covered by municipalities and NGOs.

A recent report published by the UK-based Development Initiatives revealed that Turkey is the most generous country in the world in terms of the ratio of its humanitarian aid spending to its gross national income (GNI). While the US ranked first according to volumes of funding with $6.3 billion and Turkey second with $6 billion, Turkey’s spending corresponded to %0.75 of its GNI whereas that of the US corresponded to %0.03 of its GNI – with the UAE being closest to Turkey with %0.18.