Subject: IOM: Reinsertion of Former Combatants

Source: International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Date: 2 Feb 2001

IOM Press Briefing Notes 02 Feb 2001: East Timor, Guinea Conakry, FR of Yugoslavia


by Niurka Piñeiro, IOM Spokesperson

East Timor - Reinsertion of Former Combatants

IOM has launched a programme to reintegrate 1,050 members of the 1,700-strong Falintil East Timorese guerrilla army into civil society. The remaining 650, selected by Falintil and a Portuguese military team, will become the core of a new East Timor Defence Force.

IOM's one-year Falintil Reinsertion Assistance Project (FRAP) is designed to reinsert the veterans, who fought a 24-year guerrilla war against Indonesia, into civilian life and retrain them in income-generating activities.

In December IOM completed a socio-economic survey of all 1,700 Falintil, covering their age, family structure, education, skills and job preferences. The survey results will be reflected in the third and fourth stages of the four-stage demobilization program.

The four stages, of which I and II are nearing completion, are:

Stage I - Cantonment and registration. This included provision of WFP food, water and sanitation in the cantonment site, identification and verification of identity, data collection, taking of photographs, issuance of laminated ID cards, data processing, and development and maintenance of a personnel database.

Stage II - Discharge and departure. This includes assembly and arms storage, health screening, pre-discharge orientation, discharge procedures, and transportation to the communities of choice.

Stage III - Reinsertion into the community and a transitional safety net of $US100 a month for the first five months after discharge to meet basic needs.

Stage IV - Reintegration and sustainable livelihoods. This consists of a training and start-up package that will include the materials necessary for self-sufficiency in crop or livestock farming, fishing, or micro enterprise. The FRAP will also help veterans to get access to land, vocational training, community assistance programmes, and educational grants.

The UN World Food Programme, which previously provided food for Falintil dependents, will provide FRAP candidates with an additional food package when they return to their communities.

The FRAP will be administered by IOM Dili and supported by seven IOM district sub-offices in Aileu, Batugade, Suai, Oecussi, Baucau, Viqueque and Los Palos. A network of Veterans Officers will also support the reinsertion process. This US$ 2.11 million programme, funded by USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives and the World Bank, will directly benefit the Falintil and their families - about 5,250 people.

IOM Dili Chief of Mission Christopher Gascon believes that reinsertion of the veterans into their communities will be comparatively easy. "Falintil members command enormous respect in East Timor. They fought against the Indonesian occupation for nearly a quarter of a century and suffered terrible losses. They also have strong family ties in their communities." But Gascon admits that retraining the veterans may prove more difficult. "Some of them have spent the best part of their lives with Falintil in the jungle, and it isn't going to be easy for them to take up income-generating civilian occupations."

Copyrights © 2001 International Organization for Migration. All rights reserved.

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