|Subject: AN: TNI ready to repatriate
ANTARA - THE INDONESIAN NATIONAL NEWS AGENCY February 15, 2001
INDON MILY, UNPKF READY TO REPATRIATE E TIMORESE REFUGEES
Tuban, Bali, Feb 14 (ANTARA) - The Indonesian Defense Force (TNI) and the United Nations Peacekeeping Force (UNPKF) are planning to launch a joint campaign to repatriate East Timorese refugees, chief of the Udayana regional military command, Maj Gen Williem T da Costa, said Wednesday.
"We have suggested a joint team to consist of officials of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Organization on Migration (IOM), and local civilian police to persuade East Timorese refugees to return to their country," da Costa said.
He made the statement on the sidelines of his closed-door meeting with UNPKF commander, Lt Gen Boonsrang Niumpradith, at the special meeting room of the Ngurah Rai international airport here.
About 200,000 East Timorese had fled to neighboring East Nusa Tenggara province following the victory of the pro-independence camp in a UN-sponsored vote in 1999.
Many East Timorese have returned to their country but more than 100,000 are still in the province and are becoming a burden to the Indonesian government.
In the joint campaign, the team would visit refugee camps in East Nusa Tenggara and explain to the refugees their prospects once they return home, da Costa said.
The joint campaign will be launched next month, he said.
A campaign already launched by the Indonesian government has succeeded in encouraging East Timorese refugees to go home, he said.
"Since the campaign was launched, about 100 refugees have been returning home every day. The number of refugees has decreased to about 120,000 at present," da Costa said.
Some 509 refugees have recently expressed their readiness to be repatriated soon, he said, adding that they include 22 former members of the Indonesian military and civil servants.
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