Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, says it would be a gross breach of international law if Myanmar’s military planted landmines in the path of Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in western Rakhine state.
Bishop was responding to reports that civilians had been injured while crossing the border with Bangladesh, where 300,000 Rohingya have fled in the past two weeks.
“In relation to the report on landmines, this would be a gross violation of international law if this is in fact occurring,” Australia’s foreign minister told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
“I note that Myanmar is not a signatory to the mine ban treaty but it would be a gross breach of international law”.
Bishop said Australia was focusing efforts on providing humanitarian assistance through agencies of the United Nations.
She said the government had provided funding to the Red Cross in Myanmar and also Bangladesh, where many of the refugees and those seeking humanitarian assistance are heading.
Asked whether Australia would take refugees to ease the crisis, Bishop pointed to the humanitarian assistance being provided by the Turnbull government.
Accounts from refugees crossing the border into Bangladesh have mainly detailed violence such as shooting by soldiers and the burning of villages.
But reporters from Associated Press on the Bangladesh side of the border said they had seen an elderly woman with devastating leg wounds: one leg half-blown off and the other also badly injured. Relatives said she had stepped on a landmine.