Subject: Indon govt plans to resettle 80,000 E. Timorese

Indonesian Observer Feb 17, 2000

Govt plans to resettle 80,000 E. Timorese

JAKARTA (IO) — Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare and Poverty Eradication Basri Hasanuddin says the government is preparing to resettle about 80,000 East Timor refugees in East Nusatenggara (NTT).

The minister made the announcement after a meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at his office in Jakarta yesterday.

He said about 280,000 East Timorese ended up in NTT after the August 30 referendum in which almost 80% of the territory’s 800,000 people voted for independence.

Foreign reporters covering the exodus said many of the refugees were forced by militias and Indonesian soldiers into trucks that took them into West Timor.

Since then, some 130,000 refugees have returned to East Timor. An estimated 150,000 are still in West Timor in camps, some of them guarded by the militias.

Hasanuddin said the government has several solutions to the refugee problem.

“The government gives them three options for their citizenship. First, they may return to East Timor; second, they can live in Indonesia and become Indonesian citizens; and third, the government will give them until the end of March 2000 to decide on one of the two options.”

Hasanuddin said the Indonesian government decided to set a deadline for the refugees in NTT because of limited funds to support them.

After his 20-minute meeting with the UN secretary general, he said the UN is committed to continuing assistance for refugees in the country.

“We also require the UN to help the Indonesian government to assist refugees who become Indonesian citizens,” said the minister, who is the former rector of Hasanuddin University in Makassar, South Sulawesi. ----- BBC Summary of World Broadcasts February 12, 2000, Saturday

Governor wants rid of burdensome East Timor refugees 'Jawa Pos' web site, Surabaya, in Indonesian 11 Feb 00

Excerpts from report by the Indonesian newspaper 'Jawa Pos' web site on 11th February

Kupang: The governor of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), Piet Alexander Tallo, said it would be better if all East Timorese refugees returned to their homeland so the humanitarian problem could be settled.

"There has been no pressure at all from the Indonesian government to keep them here in NTT; on the contrary, as their presence here has become a burden," said Tallo during a visit by the Finnish ambassador, Hannu U. Himanen, and six parliamentarians in Kupang on Thursday (10th February)...

"Our own people are living in hardship, but whether they like it or not they must accept the situation," said Tallo.

The governor added, "The East Timorese have been receiving daily food donations from several countries while my people must work hard in order to obtain their food."

He said that international aid for the East Timorese refugees located in West Timor has created social jealousy amongst local residents as the international donors seem to have forgotten the West Timorese are also struggling with poverty...

"The only ones who can settle the East Timorese problem are the East Timorese themselves. The Indonesian government can only help facilitate their path to reconciliation and peace," he said.

The governor also said that the number of East Timorese refugees in refugee camps in West Timor at the end of January 2000 were 158,303 people...

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