Subject: JP: UN envoys meet East Timorese refugees

The Jakarta Post November 15, 2000

UN envoys meet East Timorese refugees

KUPANG, East Nusa Tenggara (JP): A delegation sent by the United Nations Security Council met and held talks on Tuesday with East Timorese refugees in Indonesia's province of East Nusa Tenggara.

The delegation, led by Namibian Martin Andjaba, visited the Noelbeki refugee camp, about a half-hour's drive from Kupang, the capital of NTT province.

The refugees welcomed the delegation and the entourage from the local administration with curious look.

The visit of the foreign envoys to the area was first mooted after an incident on Sept. 6, during which three United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) workers - an American, an Ethiopian and a Croat - were slain and their office ransacked.

Around 400 hundred aid workers fled the area following the incident.

The delegation was tasked with ascertaining just to what extent the Indonesia government has complied with Security Council resolution No. 1319, which requires the Indonesian government to guarantee a safe environment for the tens of thousands of East Timorese refugees who wish to return home.

The group's findings could also have a strong impact on Indonesia's future ties with the international community.

But Andjaba said that regardless of the team's findings, they would not recommend the Security Council take action against Indonesia.

"We are not here to punish Indonesia or to recommend to the Security Council to call for punishment," he told reporters before leaving Dili for Kupang.

Andjaba said the UN team was seeking guarantees from Indonesian authorities that they would ensure conditions were safe enough to allow aid workers to return and help move the refugees out of the squalid camps where they have been stranded for 14 months.

"We want the UNHCR and all other humanitarian agencies to get back to the camps so they can assist the refugees, in particular with the repatriation of the refugees," he was quoted by AFP before departing for Kupang.

Around 250,000 East Timorese crossed the border into West Timor, where more than 120,000 remain, after violence ravaged their homeland following a popular consultation which went against Jakarta's autonomy offer in August last year.

Weapons

The delegation also visited NTT Police Headquarters on Tuesday to view weapons confiscated from the prointegration fighters groups in accordance with the Council's resolution.

Local security had launched raids on former members of the prointegration militia groups after giving deadlines to voluntarily surrender their weapons.

The seven-member mission was set to stay in NTT for two days.

They arrived at El Tari airport and was welcomed by Governor Piet A. Tallo, Speaker of the NTT Council Daniel Woda Palle, the Udayana Military Commander Maj. Gen. Kiki Syahnakri, Kupang Major S.K. Lerik and other local officials.

The delegates met with the local administrative in a closed door meeting at the Governor's office.

An official from the Foreign Ministry, Sujatna, told a press conference that the administrative briefed the delegates on the steps taken by government to deal with the refugees and the disarmaments as stipulated by the UN Security Council Resolution No. 1319.

During the closed meeting, Indonesia also disclosed that prointegration fighters groups, not militia groups as they were usually referred, had been dismissed and stern measures had been taken to disarm the members, Sujatna said.

On Wednesday, the delegates were planned to visit Atambua, which borders former Indonesian territory, East Timor. The council mission will check on the Mota Ain border security post, visit the Haliwen refugee camp and will also visit the damaged UNHCR office.

After their two-day trip here, the UN team would head to Jakarta to hold talks with defense minister Moh. Mahfud MD. Mahfud said he would welcome the UN delegation's visit and would meet them on Thursday.

The minister also denied Indonesian Military (TNI) soldiers were demanding money from refugees trying make their own way home. (lem)


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