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Australia provides $US1 million for repatriation of displaced Khmers

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MT80 Date: 22 O c t o b e r 1 9 9 1

Australia provides $US1 million for repatriation of displaced Khmers

As part of the comprehensive settlement of the Cambodian issue, Australia will provide $US1 million for repatriation of displaced Cambodians from camps on the Thai-Cambodian border, the Minister for Trade and Overseas Development, Neal Blewett, announced today.

"The achievement of a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Cambodia, reflected in tomorrow's signing of the Peace Accord in Paris, is the first step in the process of rehabilitation," Dr Blewett said.

"Just as Australia has played an important role in the peace process we will also meet our international obligations to the rehabilitation of Cambodia.

"With an estimated 350 000 displaced Cambodians living in camps along the Thai-Cambodian border, many of them for more than 10 years, repatriation is an important priority," Dr Blewett said.

Following an international appeal by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Australia will provide $US1 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to assist in repatriating displaced


UNHCR is the lead agency in the United Nations' repatriation plan.

"Repatriation will be a very complex exercise with many difficulties to be overcome in order to ensure the health and safety of those returning," Dr Blewett said.

"Faced with such a complex and difficult operation, UNHCR is also making contingency plans to provide emergency assistance for up to 100 000 people who may return to Cambodia outside the formal UN operation."

Dr Blewett said that UNHCR would have discretion to use the Australian funds for repatriation or emergency assistance operations.

Funds for the repatriation will be provided through the overseas development cooperation program administered by the Australian International Development Assistance Bureau (AIDAB). . j COM M ONW EALTH .



For further information contact Ali Gillies, Director, AIDAB Public Information, (06) 276 4960.