The humanitarian work carried out by Turkiye’s state-run aid agency in Bangladesh has provided hope for many, including Rohingya refugees and marginalized host communities.
Marking its 30th anniversary on Jan. 24, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) is engaged in various development cooperation activities in at least 150 countries and has program coordination offices in 60 countries, said TIKA officials in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.
The agency was established in 1992 and entrusted with the responsibility of implementing Turkish development cooperation policy.
Its main operational activity is carrying out infrastructure projects such as those dealing with irrigation, sanitation and transportation as well as the construction or renovation of schools, hospitals and architectural objects of cultural heritage, said the TIKA officials.
Besides extending humanitarian assistance, TIKA engages in technical cooperation with partner countries for the development of institutional capacity and human resources.
Mission to eradicate poverty, provide development aid
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Ahmed Faruk Mustakoglu, the acting coordinator of TIKA in Bangladesh, said TIKA’s mission is to contribute to poverty eradication and sustainable development in partner countries.
“With all those facilities, TIKA started its journey in Bangladesh in 2012, and since then, TIKA has implemented hundreds of projects across the country in cooperation with the Bangladesh government,” he said.
TIKA recently opened a technical institute in Bangladesh’s northeastern district of Lalmonirhat, a remote border area mostly inhabited by the underprivileged.
In a technology building built by TIKA, courses such as basic computing, using office tools, web page design and computational coding will be given to youths, while textile lessons will be given to women.
A well-equipped outpatient treatment unit has been constructed and equipped by TIKA at Dhaka Shishu Hospital where more than 2,000 patients are treated daily. TIKA has also provided construction and equipment support to a school for special needs children in the districts of Cox’s Bazar, Gazipur and Sreepur, and education-related equipment to an Islamic school in the Narsingdi district, the TIKA official said.
Hope for persecuted Rohingya Muslims
Turkiye has extended support to refugees at camps in Cox’s Bazar, where more than 1.1 million Rohingya have taken refuge after fleeing a brutal military crackdown in neighboring Myanmar’s Rakhine State since August 2017.
Ansar Ali, a Rohingya leader at the Cox’s Bazar camps, told Anadolu Agency that Turkish humanitarian agencies have been the biggest provider of humanitarian support to the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals in Bangladesh.
“TIKA provides global standard medical treatment and medicines. It also provides food items, shelter, warm clothes and so on to the refugees in Cox’s Bazar.
“We also want Turkiye’s support in global platforms for our dignified repatriation to our homeland, Myanmar. We want Turkish, UN direct intervention for a safe repatriation in Rakhine state of Myanmar, and for ensuring a safe environment for the remaining 400,000 Rohingya in Rakhine state,” said Ali.
Mustakoglu said that from the very beginning of the Rohingya crisis, the agency started its operations in the camps with the full support and cooperation of the Office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner, a Bangladesh government agency under the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief responsible for providing relief to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and planning their eventual repatriation.
“TIKA has done many projects in the food sector, shelter, child care, education and sanitization. From the very beginning, TIKA distributed hot meals every day to 25,000 Rohingya refugees, as well as to the host community, and the project continued for around 18 months,” he said.
He stressed that in all these projects, TIKA included nearby host communities.
Strengthening of bilateral relations
Mustakoglu noted that Bangladesh is a friendly country for Turkiye, and as one can see from history, there have been very strong ties between the two countries, adding that TIKA feels very comfortable working in Bangladesh.
“Relations between the two governments are very friendly and strong and are getting stronger every year through these friendly works,” he said.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Bangladesh’s Chief Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Shah Rezwan Hayat said Turkish support for Rohingya refugees came to light since the crisis began.
“Turkiye has become a partner of Bangladesh in global platforms on the Rohingya issue,” he said.
All four Turkish humanitarian agencies operating in Bangladesh have been on the frontlines in extending humanitarian support in direct cooperation with the Bangladesh government, he added.
“We believe Turkiye’s support will continue, including for the repatriation of Rohingya – our prime goal – to their own country, Myanmar.”