Subject: UN registration of East Timor refugees postponed due to security risks

BBC Summary of World Broadcasts Friday, July 14, 2000 Source: 'Jawa Pos' web site, Surabaya, in Indonesian 13 Jul 00

UN registration of East Timor refugees postponed due to security risks

Atambua: The registration of East Timorese refugees in NTT [East Nusa Tenggara], planned to begin today, has been postponed. The security situation was considered too unstable to proceed.

"We have put off the registration process, because it is impossible to go ahead at present. We will discuss our options with the various institutions involved," said UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] head in Atambua Alias bin Ahmad yesterday in Atambua.

All day yesterday, no refugees living in their emergency accommodation tents made an attempt to register. Instead, normal daily activities continued as usual.

Refugees were engaged in tidying up the area of the tents for a version of a "Tidy Town" competition. "We couldn't care less about the registration programme. It is an activity of UNHCR and international NGOs. It doesn't concern us, the refugees. Better that we get on with our lives and ignore it," said a refugee, Margarida X da Silva.

At the UNHCR office in Atambua, registration officials, notably students, were crowding onto buses to take them back to Kupang. "We are forced to return to Kupang, because security here for the registration process is very unstable. If we force the issue, there could be a clash," said a student, Laurensius Carvallo.

He said that, the day before, students there to assist in the registration process had been accosted, and a Catholic Relief Services vehicle had been damaged. A certain group had also damaged the UNHCR office in Betun, Malaka Tengah District. On the same day, students had been stoned at Sekutren village, Tasifeto Timur subdistrict, which borders on the Bobonaro region of East Timor.

Carvallo said that the refugees refused to register because they felt insulted by the UNHCR's proposed use of bracelets and fingertip dye. They also objected to being registered by students. As well, the refugees noted no involvement by pro-integrationist [pro-Jakarta] political figures from the Timor Warriors Association (UNTAS) or from subdistrict and village administrations from areas where the refugees were living. Refugees also demanded that UNHCR register [former] military and police personnel, and afford them and their families the same assistance as other refugees.

It has already been determined that military and police families would not be registered on this occasion. "The refugees also object to these international NGOs who employ white people. This is understandable, as [the refugees] are still traumatized by the poll in East Timor on 30th August 1999, which involved people from the West," he said.

Therefore, the refugees wanted the registration done by the Indonesian government and local NGOs...

East Timorese pro-integration figure Florentino Sarmento believed that postponement of the refugee registration process was caused more by inadequate familiarization of the process within the community. Cooperation and communication among all parties involved was lacking...


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