|Subject: RT "Overlap in handling of
refugees, aid wasted"
Radar Timor (West Timr newspaper) Tuesday, 2 Jan. 2000
RT "Overlap in handling of refugees, aid wasted"
ATAMBUA There is an increasing overlap in handling of refugees in Belu so that aid that is distributed is frequently wasted. As a result, some refugees rarely get aid while others have a heyday every month. Paulus Asa, a social leader in Belu and former head of the Development Planning Board there, said that refugee organizations whose direction is unclear have given rise to dissatisfaction among refugees which in turn often leads to horizontal conflicts between refugees and local residents. Therefore, he wants the local govt. to reorganize all organizations handling refugees to avoid unwanted problems. "In 1975 [when there was a large influx of refugees into Belu from E. Timor], we took advantage of coordinators in each refugee camp to distribute aid to the refugees so that there was no overlap in aid distribution because the coordinators knew clearly who were members of their camp and who were not. There was never any doubling of aid then." He said that Belu Regent M. Bere must take responsibility for reorganizing the aid organizations so that they are more coordinated. All the aid needs to pass through one gate in order to avoid uneven distribution. "I see with the presence of E. Timor refugees in W. Timor that a lot of officials have become rich. Meanwhile, refugees are always complaining that they are hungry and say they have been turned into a project. The distribution of only 2 kg. of rice can't be entrusted directly to the camp coordinators and the government must be directly involved. Is this so that we can find a profit?" criticized Asa. He also said that in serving the refugees a cultural and customary approach was needed. The same holds true for reconciliation efforts. "I myself was invited to a meeting with the Timor kings, but I think that an approach like that isn't potent enough to re-glue relations among E. Timorese of different political persuasions."
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