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Burma: Attacks on Thai border refugee camps



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MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER

-b. A U S T R A L IA N

FA29 18 March, 1998

BURMA: ATTACKS ON THAI BORDER REFUGEE CAMPS

The Australian Government condemns recent attacks by a Burmese Government-sponsored Karen splinter group on two refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border.

According to reports, on 11 March the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) attacked Wangka Camp killing four people and destroying 80% of facilities housing the camp’s 9,000 occupants. A second attack by the DKBA on 15 March reportedly resulted in more deaths at Mae La Camp, which houses 30,000 refugees.

The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) must prevent such attacks on civilian refugee populations in Thailand. I have instructed our Embassy in Rangoon to make this point directly to the SPDC. On my instruction, our Embassy in Bangkok has also held discussions with the Thai Government on the need to ensure security of the camps.

The Australian Government has a longstanding commitment to providing material assistance to Burmese refugees in Thai camps who have fled the fighting in Burma. In 1997/98 we are providing A$ 1 million to assist these people.

Media Inquiries: Ministerial: Innes Willox 02 6277 7500 or 0411 414 695 Department: Tony Melville 02 6261 1555 or 0418 623 327

M edia releases and sp eech es are available from DFAT via the internet, http://www.dfat.qov.au/