|Subject: ST "Pressing, refugee
re-registration: Matter of refugee total that swells"
Wednesday, 21 February 2001 Surya Timor
ST "Pressing, refugee re-registration: Matter of refugee total that swells"
KUPANG Members of the NTT House of Reps. are pressuring for re-registration of refugees from E. Timor to be immediately implemented in order to obtain accurate data regarding the total number of refugees following indications that the total has jumped from 126,007 to 336,359 individuals. Rev. Dr. Nico Wolly of the PDKB Faction said that the swell in figures is because the reports from the regencies haven't been based on registration but probably just on estimates that also serve certain interests. He denied the accusation by Carrascalao that the NTT govt. has committed fraud in collecting data on the refugees. In a meeting with the House on 30/12/00, the NTT Social Bureau siad there are more than 6,200 tons of rice and more than 4 billion rupiah for food supplements to aid 133,931 refugees (29,894 households) through the end of March 2001. When asked if the swell in figures could be intended to hide indications of abuse of funds discovered by the Supervisory Board for Finance and Development in the former NTT Social Dept., Wolly stressed the need for positive thinking in this matter and that the abuse was with funds related to disaster relief projects and had no connection with refugee funds. Paul L. Detaq, who was met separately, said although he doesn't want to accuse anyone it is possible there has been a manipulation of data. If the data that exists now is used to the govt. to make development plans for resettlement locations the consequences could be dangerous. Because the governor can't go to the camps to count all the refugees himself, Detaq calls on those officials who have this responsibility to work in a professional and honest manner so that the governor can take steps to handle the situation appropriately. He urges the Social Bureau to clarify the figures. Regarding Carrascalao's statement, Detaq said the UNTAET & UNHCR figures could be counting only indigenous E. Timorese while the recent figures from the Social Dept. count non-E. Timorese who are also considered refugees. He stresses the need for immediate re-registration. Those who are not indigenous E. Timorese should be returned to their original villages and if they have suffered from the loss of possessions and don't own land they may participate in resettlement programs. Detaq thinks it best to surrender the matter of refugees entirely to each regency, including funds and other matters for handling refugees. "So that if they report 10 people they find funds for 10 people lest there are only 5 people, but they report there are 10."
Monday, 19 February 2001
(Kupang) The data on the number of East Timor refugees in NTT is increasingly confusing. Numbers from various official sources are widely variant. For example, the Public Relations Dept. of NTT listed 127,000 as of January 2001. The Dept. of Social Welfare counts 130-134,00 [EH] —a difference that is nonetheless understandable.
But as of Saturday, the number exploded to 336,357 people, or 56,395 families, according to reports received from the six regencies that are hosting refugees. This number is higher than that given for the initial exodus after the referendum in 1999, which was estimated at 250,000. Gov. Tallo has said that at least 120,000 refugees have already returned home, which would mean that another 120,000 or so would remain in NTT.
So, does this mean that there has been a new exodus from East Timor to the West? According to Dept. of Social Welfare head Yos Mamulak, there has been no such exodus. He added that the numbers were reported from each regency with no explanation for the discrepancy. To further complicate the issue, estimates from East Timor (UNTAET/UNHCR) are 80,000-100,000. Finding out why there are such conflicting numbers should be an interesting task.
For information, following are the numbers reported by regency [Note from EH: There are two numbers shown for each regency. The first number shown falls under the category, "Previous Data (individuals)"; the second number falls under the category, "Data as of 17/2/01"]:
Kupang (city) 2,565 18,857
Kupang Regency 32,916 49,962
South Central Timor (TTS) 5,080 6,000
North Central Timor (TTU) 20,117 20,452
Belu 62,411 238,332
Alor 2,856 2,756
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