Recent ethnic unrest in Myanmar

Media release

5 April 2013

Foreign Minister Bob Carr expressed concerned about ethnic unrest in parts of Myanmar.

Senator Carr reaffirmed Australia's commitment in assisting to resolve communal tensions, supporting the peace process, and providing humanitarian assistance to those affected by recent ethnic and sectarian conflict.

"Australia is supporting local efforts to bring peace to regions affected by conflict in Myanmar," Senator Carr said.

"We continue to call for a peaceful end to the conflict in Kachin State and efforts to resolve the underlying causes of the unrest in Rakhine State, where the onset of the rainy season threatens a deterioration of the humanitarian situation."

Senator Carr said he was concerned by the outbreak of violence on 20 March in Meikhtila and surrounding towns in Mandalay Region which left, according to official Myanmar Government figures, 43 people dead, 86 injured, nearly 13,000 displaced and caused significant loss of property.

Senator Carr welcomed the public statement made by President Thein Sein on 28 March, in which he condemned religious extremism, urged mutual respect amongst local communities, and underlined the importance of peaceful coexistence in multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-faith societies.

"President Thein Sein's pledge to take all necessary action to stop the conflict and prosecute the perpetrators of violence is a welcome step towards finding a lasting solution to the unrest", said Senator Carr.

The Prime Minister raised Australia's concerns over ethnic conflicts directly with President Thein Sein, when he visited Australia last month.

Australia's Ambassador to Myanmar this week also raised Australia's concerns directly with the Myanmar Government in Nay Pyi Taw.

Australia is a principal donor to the Myanmar peace process and is a source of humanitarian assistance to those affected by ethnic unrest in Myanmar.

Australia has provided over $6.5 million in humanitarian assistance to conflict-affected areas and has committed $5 million to the peace process.

Australia's aid program to Myanmar is set to increase to $100 million per year by 2015 to improve lives of Myanmar's people and support the Government's reform agenda.

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