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Aid for Burmese refugees



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M E D IA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER

AA17 11 March 98

AID FOR BURMESE REFUGEES

I am pleased to announce additional relief funds of over $1.1 million to assist refugees who have returned to Burma.

The funds will support the World Food Programme’s relief and rehabilitation activities leading to the eventual rehabilitation of the refugees.

Since 1991, a total of 225,000 refugees fled Burma for the sanctuary of camps located along the country’s borders with Bangladesh and Thailand. The vast majority of them have since returned with the assistance of international agencies.

Australia will also contribute $169,000 towards funding a CARE Australia project to assist refugees returning to their homelands.

These funds will be used to help the returnees implement Agroforestry systems which both contribute to their subsistence and income needs while improving natural resource management.

The Australian Government is prepared to share the burden of refugee relief and encourages Burma’s Government - the State Peace and Development Council - to take steps to improve the observance of human rights in Burma, which is the underlying cause of the refugee problem.

In early February I announced an Australian contribution of $500,000 to assist 21,000 Rohingyan refugees remaining in camps on the Bangladesh/Burma border. These funds are being used to provide clean water, food, sanitation and shelter.

Since the refugee problem began Australia has contributed $8.8 million to the international relief effort to purchase food, medicines and other relief items.

Media Contact: Innes Willox (Minister’s Office) 02 627 7500/0411 414 695 Mark Giffard (AusAID Canberra) 02 6202 4840