Rohingya crisis: 'Persecution' could be used by IS group to fight the West, Julie Bishop warns

Rohingya crisis: 'Persecution' could be used by IS group to fight the West, Julie Bishop warns

Rohingya crisis: 'Persecution' could be used by IS group to fight the West, Julie Bishop warns

Updated 1 October 2017, 12:15 AEDT

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop warns terrorist groups like Islamic State could gain a foothold in South-East Asia if violence continues against ethnic minorities in Myanmar.

Terrorist groups like Islamic State could gain a foothold in South-East Asia if violence continues against ethnic minorities in Myanmar, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has warned.

Key points:

  • Rohingya crisis could give rise to broader problems, Julie Bishop says
  • Aung San Suu Kyi faces strident criticism of her handling of the situation
  • "Australia maintains an arms embargo on Myanmar," DFAT says

It is believed more than half-a-million Rohingya Muslims have fled persecution in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

The situation has triggered a humanitarian crisis in neighbouring Bangladesh, which has accepted the refugees pouring over the border.

Ms Bishop argued the ongoing violence, prompted by a military offensive in Myanmar, could give rise to broader problems.

"We are deeply concerned that the persecution of a significant group of Muslim Rohingyas will be used by ISIS and other terrorist groups as part of their narrative to take up arms and to fight against the West," Ms Bishop told Insiders.

"That's why this Myanmar situation must be resolved.

"There's got to be a political resolution but in the meantime, the humanitarian disaster needs our full attention."

Myanmar's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has faced strident criticism over her handling of the situation, with many describing it as a lack of action from the once-lauded political activist.

Earlier this week, Bangladesh police said more than 50 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar were reported missing and dozens died after their boat capsized.

'Australia maintains arms embargo': Bishop

Ms Bishop told Insiders Australia supported a UN-led investigation.

"Australia has supported an independent investigation to verify the facts on the ground, a UN-led investigation," Ms Bishop said.

"State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi has confirmed that she will invite UN representatives and international diplomats into Rakhine state this Monday — Australia's ambassador to Myanmar will attend that visit."

Earlier in the week, the United States ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, called on countries to suspend providing weapons to Myanmar over violence against Rohingya Muslims.

"Australia maintains an arms embargo on Myanmar due to concerns about ongoing conflict, weapons proliferation and human rights," a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told the ABC.

"This prohibits the export of arms and related materials and associated services to Myanmar.

"Australia does not sell weapons or conduct joint military exercises with Myanmar."