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Australia to pressure Myanmar over safe return of Rohingya refugees

Australia will escalate pressure on Myanmar and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, to guarantee the safe return of almost 1 million Rohingya refugees who have fled a campaign of violence by the country’s military.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne will take Australia’s concerns to the United Nations later this month after visiting Cox’s Bazar – one of the world’s biggest refugee camps housing about 600,000 Rohingya – on the south-east coast of neighbouring Bangladesh.

Marise Payne said the goal in Bangladesh was to return the refugees to Myanmar rather than offer them humanitarian places in Australia or elsewhere.

Marise Payne said the goal in Bangladesh was to return the refugees to Myanmar rather than offer them humanitarian places in Australia or elsewhere.

“When you speak to women who are scared for their daughters, and who have experienced the most extraordinary trauma prior to arriving at the camp, it really brings home to you the importance of the work being done,” she said in an interview. “And it brings home the importance of working towards a resolution that will enable them to return to their homelands in a safe, dignified, sustainable way.”

A UN fact-finding mission condemned Myanmar in May for its “total standstill” on the crisis after the country’s soldiers “brutally and systemically” killed thousands of civilians, raped women and girls and burned Rohingya villages in Rakhine State.

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