Tents set up for internally displaced people on the side of the road in Thet Kel Pyin camp, Rakhine state, Myanmar. Photo: OCHA

The recent mission of the Turkish Foreign Minister and senior officials of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to Myanmar?s state of Rakhine ? which recently experienced deadly ethnic clashes that displaced thousands of people ? was welcomed today by the top United Nations envoy to the Southeast Asian country.

?Such positive steps will help support Myanmar?s ongoing process of democratization and reform,? the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General, Vijay Nambiar, said in a statement on the fact-finding visit led by the Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davuto?lu, undertaken at the invitation of the Government of Myanmar.

Recent tensions between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in the western state of Rakhine have left at least a dozen civilians dead and hundreds of homes destroyed, as well as at least 64,000 people displaced.

The Turkish delegation visited the camps of both Muslims and Buddhists displaced by the violence, where humanitarian aid provided by Turkey was distributed, representing the first such assistance accepted by Myanmar outside that provided by the UN, according to Mr. Nambiar?s statement.

?This has demonstrated the willingness of the Myanmar Government to cooperate with the international community to alleviate the suffering of its people,? Mr. Nambiar said, adding that he and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had been in continuous contact with authorities on the matter.

Last week, at the end of four-day mission to Myanmar, the Director of Operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), John Ging, warned of the rapidly growing needs faced by over half a million internally displaced persons in the Asian nation, and called on the Government to give aid agencies access to all areas of the country.

A series of democratic reforms in Myanmar, begun last year and led by President Thein Sein, culminated in April elections in which pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi won a position in the lower house of parliament and which Mr. Ban, in a visit soon after, called ?a historic moment.?

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