Subject: Tempo: US$ 40 Million Needed for West Timor Refugee Problem

Foreign Affairs Minister Alwi Shihab: US$ 40 Million for West Timor Refugee Problem 23 Oct 2000 18:16:31 WIB

TEMPO Interaktif, Jakarta: The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alwi Shihab, claimed that the 130,000 East Timor refugee problem in Atambua, West Timor, East Nusatenggara, would cost more than US$ 40-milllion to solve. He made these comments today (23/10) in a coordination meeting of economic affairs in Bappenas building, Jakarta.

The United States and European Union countries, Alwi added, have promised to donate the aid. "We have already submitted the bill, contained inside the comprehensive plan of action, to the US. Now, we are awaiting the donors' decision," Alwi said.

Alwi strongly denied suggestions that the aid was a form of loan. "This is a grant," Alwi said. Alwi added that the refugee problem in Atambua does not only involve Indonesia. Other countries all over the world are concerned about the human misery. Indonesia, therefore, has requested assistance from donor countries to aid Indonesia in relocating the refugees.

In current efforts to handle the Atambua tragedy, Alwi said, a solution is emerging. The government is now registering the refugees. Afterwards, they will be relocated. "We hope to begin the resettlement this month," he added.

Meanwhile, Alwi reported that the United Nations Security Council has sent a letter to Indonesia announcing their intention to send a team to East Timor at the invitation of Sergio de Mello, the Head of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor. Afterwards, according to the letter, the UN mission would accept Indonesia's invitation to witness the constructive steps taken by the Indonesian government to satisfy the UN Security Council resolution on Atambua.

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