Statement on Australia’s Response to Humanitarian Crisis in Myanmar

19 Sep, 2017

The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) has today welcomed Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop’s comments on the violence in Myanmar and a further $15m of Australian humanitarian assistance.

CEO of the Australian Council for International Development, Marc Purcell, said:

“We welcome the statements that have been made by the Foreign Minister and echo her calls for the cessation of violence and for open and sustained humanitarian access to Rakhine state. The additional $15m of humanitarian assistance to support displaced people who are fleeing Myanmar to Bangladesh is very welcome and much needed.

“We expect the number of people seeking sanctuary in Bangladesh to increase to over 500,000. The humanitarian need is vast with requirements for food rations, shelter and protection. A number of our members are responding and have opened appeals to ask the Australian public for their support.”

Commenting on proposals for the repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar from Bangladesh, Marc Purcell continued:

“As the situation remains highly uncertain, we strongly oppose the repatriation of Rohingyas from Bangladesh when their lives remain at risk and their protection has not been fully assured. A comprehensive plan – agreed internationally and with the Government of Myanmar – must be put in place and with UNHCR’s oversight to ensure safety for returnees.”

Commenting on reports in the Guardian that Rohingya refugees detained in Papua New Guinea are being pressured to return to Myanmar, Marc Purcell said:

“The Australian Government is currently offering a financial incentive to Rohingya refugees imprisoned on Manus Island to return to Myanmar. We need to show compassion, halt this process and give them the right to settle here.

“Historically, the number of refugees Australia has resettled from Myanmar has been extremely low. We urge the Australian Government to look at an increase to Australia’s humanitarian intake, with specific consideration to vulnerable people who have fled violence and persecution in Myanmar.”

Commenting on Australia’s action internationally and at UN Leaders' Week, Marc Purcell said:

“We urge Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop to pursue the implementation of the UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar which Australia supported at the UN Human Rights Council, along with the international community. The atrocities that have been reported must end immediately and be fully investigated, with accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims.”


Further Information

Interview with Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop – 19 Sept – ABC AM

‘Australia offers to pay Rohingya refugees to return to Myanmar’ – 19 Sept – The Guardian

Media Contact

For further information, please contact Tim Watkin on 0401 721 064 or at [email protected].