Statement on visit to Myanmar

  • Media release
14 December 2018

This week I visited Myanmar to discuss the country'sdevelopment, economic transition and humanitarian and security challenges withgovernment ministers, United Nations representatives, humanitarian partners andcivil society and to see at first-hand the devastating humanitarian impact ofthe situation in Rakhine State.

Ivisited Baw Du Pha IDP camp in central Rakhine State where I met localauthorities and humanitarian partners and saw how Australian support is helpingpeople in need. The UN estimates that more than 1.8 million people in Myanmarand Bangladesh require humanitarian assistance, including more than 1.4 millionRohingya.

Australiais providing life-saving food, water and shelter, and health care services tothe camps. It is also supporting children to continue their education andhelping to keep women and girls safe from violence and trafficking. Australiawill sustain our commitment to providing humanitarian assistance, targetedparticularly at supporting women, children and people with a disability, and examinefurther humanitarian support options.

During meetings in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw, includingwith State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, National Security Adviser and Ministerfor Investment and Foreign Economic Relations Thaung Tun, Minister forInternational Cooperation Kyaw Tin, Minister for Social Welfare, Relief andResettlement Dr Win Myat Aye, and Chair of the Myanmar Commission of Enquiry,former Philippines Ambassador to the United Nations HE Rosario Manalo, wediscussed Myanmar's ongoing efforts to address the crisis.

I raised the importance of allowing UN agencies ongoing access to affectedareas and the important need to allow displaced people freedom of movement andaccess to full education, health and employment. I emphasised the importance ofimplementing the Kofi Annan-led Rakhine Advisory Commission recommendations asthe framework for a long-term, durable solution to the crisis, and offeredAustralia's humanitarian support.

The Rohingya crisis is a complex regional challengeand is the largest humanitarian crisis in our region. Alongside ourhumanitarian efforts, Australia will continue to work with Myanmar and ourpartners in the region, including through ASEAN, to strongly encourage effortstowards peace and reconciliation across Myanmar.

In Myanmar I also met with local mediarepresentatives to discuss Myanmar's developing media sector and the role of afree press in the country's transition to democracy. We also discussed thesituation of jailed Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.

Afterfifty years of military rule, Myanmar is a developing democracy in our region,holding its first democratic elections two years ago. Australia also supportsaccess to education across Myanmar, development of economic governance andlegislative capacity and efforts towards the peace process.

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