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Australia funds UN human rights monitors for Rwanda

Australia is providing $100,000 to support the stationing of UN Human Rights Monitors in Rwanda, the Minister for Development Cooperation, Gordon Bilney, said today.

"Up to 147 UN Human Rights Monitors will be deployed in Rwanda where they will attempt to redress existing human rights violations and prevent any further recurrences, " Mr Bilney said.

"The monitors will play an important part in the restoration of a more peaceful environment in the country and the creation of an atmosphere which will encourage the thousands of displaced people who fled the recent violence in their homeland to return home without fear. "

The Government received an appeal to support this initiative from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jose Ayala Lasso.

The Minister said there was a clear need for wide-ranging follow-up action in the aftermath of the tragedy in Rwanda, particularly to ensure that the efforts of the international community in recent months are fully realised.

Mr Bilney said the decision to provide further assistance to help Rwanda on its road to recovery was consistent with the significant role Australia has played so far in reacting to the crisis.

Australia has already provided a total of $65 million in emergency relief to the country. The Government contributed around $35 million through aid and defence packages, and the Australian public donated more than $30 million to public appeals run by non-government organisations.

"The decision is also in keeping with the high priority the Government attaches to human rights issues, and in particular the need for preventative action aimed at promoting human security, " the Minister said.

Further information: Minister's office AIDAB

Allen Mawer Maree Flynn

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