News / Asia

Australia Boosts Burma Aid, Presses for Sectarian Resolution

Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi after a meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, Yangon June 6, 2012.
Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi after a meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, Yangon June 6, 2012.
Ron Corben
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr is calling on Burmese authorities to resolve sectarian tensions between Rakhine state Muslim and Buddhist communities, and to support local development in that region.
 
Carr, who spoke to reporters Thursday after talks with his Thai counterpart, Surapong Tovichakchaikul, said solutions to the ongoing conflict between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims had to be addressed at the local level, and that non-Burmese authorities can't resolve the issue alone. More than 115,000 Muslim Rohingya and Buddhists have been forced to live in emergency camps in Rahkine state after sectarian violence last year left up to 200 people dead and hundreds of homes and shops torched in arson attacks.
 
Thousands of Rohingya, including women and children, have put their lives at risk by taking to the seas — often in unsafe craft — hoping to reach South East Asian destinations such as Thailand and Malaysia. Human rights groups say hundreds of refugees have been lost at sea.
 
“We did discuss [the flight of Rohingya] and agreed that the answer to this movement of people... needs to be humanitarian settlement within Rahkine that addresses the question of their citizenship status and sees them resettled and integrated into the economy," he said.
 
Carr, visiting Laos and Thailand, announced that Australia is providing a $2.5 million in aid to Burma, half of it going for humanitarian assistance in Rakhine, where the United Nations human rights envoy to Burma recently described sanitation conditions among Rohingya Muslim community camps as “inadequate.”
 
“On Rakhine state we are deeply concerned about the impact of the rainy season on conditions for the displaced population," he said, explaining that special emphasis will be placed on allocating funds specifically for shelter and access to clean water and sanitation. "I’ve seen photos of conditions in these hastily constructed refugee camps and they underline again the sometimes desperate state of these people.”

Story continues below
  • A woman stands in front of a burnt Muslim neighborhoud, Kyauk Phyu, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
  • A woman balances scavenged wood in a burnt Muslim neighborhood, Kyauk Phyu, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
  • Stray dogs pick through a burnt Muslim neighborhood in Kyauk Phyu, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
  • Trucks of soldiers on Sittwe's busy main road, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
  • A Rangoon police officer guards a Muslim camp outside Kyauk Phyu, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
  • Baw Du Pha Muslim Camp, outside Sittwe, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
  • A boy with traditional sunblock on his face, Thet Kae Pyin Camp, outside Sittwe, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
  • A Muslim woman dries squid in a camp, outside Sittwe, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
  • Water is stored in makeshift pools at a Muslim camp outside Kyauk Phyu, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
  • Muslims distribute food aid at Thet Kae Pyin Camp, outside Sittwe, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
  • Muslim men look through the window of a food aid tent at Thet Kae Pyin Camp, outside Sittwe, Rakhine state, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
  • Men pray at a mosque, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)

Australia is also to provide nearly $770,000 in assistance to Kachin state, where thousands were displaced after months of fighting between Burmese troops and Kachin fighters when the army breached a longstanding cease-fire agreement in June 2011.
 
Initial rounds of peace talks have been under way between the Army and the rebels, and more than half a million dollars are being provided for mine-clearing in eastern Burma.
 
Thailand has received up to 2,000 Rohingya who are now being held in temporary camps. The Thai government is allowing Rohingya to remain in the country for six months. An unknown number have been smuggled across the border into Malaysia, and some Thai military personnel were recently accused of aiding human trafficking gangs.
 
Carr said he welcomed efforts by Burma’s president, Thein Sein, to restore order in Rahkine and “efforts” to address “underlying political dimensions” to what he termed “this difficult issue.”
 
But the Australian foreign minister said the solution to Rahkine's conflict and development issues lay at the local level, and that sheer population numbers of those displaced are too large to be accommodated by a refugee or asylum program.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: lstmohican from: USA
February 22, 2013 9:36 AM
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr should acknowledge that the issues of Kachin and so-called Rohingya in Rakhine state are totally different. After all, only about 2.5 percent of the population of Australia is now indigenous people; and Kachin and Rakhine are indigenous to Myanmar. However, should Australia with vast areal extent want to resettle the so-called Rohingya in their country, it will be welcomed in Myanmar. But by “throwing a bone” of $2.5 million dollars, I do not think interference in the internal affairs of Myanmar will be welcomed.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid