Visit to Siem Reap

Media release

26 March 2012

Australia's aid to Cambodia is helping save the Angkor World Heritage site and eliminate blindness from the country, the Foreign Minister Bob Carr said on his first overseas visit since being sworn in as Foreign Minister.

Senator Carr is spending three days in Cambodia before visiting Vietnam and Singapore.

“We are putting nearly $1 million into a heritage protection plan for the Angkor World Heritage area to stop it being trampled to death as visitor numbers rise to 20,000 per day,” Senator Carr said.

“We are using the experience gained at Uluru in central Australia and other UNESCO world heritage sites.

“Our plan will help protect the 700 year old temple complex from flooding, protect monuments from wear and tear from tourist visits and see that more tourist money benefits the poor local population.

“The plan is being prepared by heritage experts.”

Yesterday Senator Carr visited the Fred Hollows Foundation facility at the Siem Reap Regional Eye Hospital which is helped by a $6 million AusAID program that includes training for local doctors and nurses to remove cataracts.

“With the Fred Hollows Foundation, we have helped reduce the percentage of the population suffering blindness from 1.2 per cent in 1998 to 0.38 per cent today,” Senator Carr said.

“Because of this plan, by 2020, avoidable blindness will have been eradicated in the country.

“All Australians can be proud of their country's good international citizenship.”

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