Subject: LUSA: 50,000 Refugees Opt to Stay in Indonesia, Says UNHCR

East Timor: 50,000 Refugees Opt to Stay in Indonesia, Says UNHCR 4 Jan-12:45

About 50,000 East Timorese refugees in Indonesian West Timor, mostly former Indonesian soldiers and civil servants and their families, have chosen not to be repatriated, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said Thursday.

UNHCR spokesman Jake Morlan said the agency hoped to complete the repatriation of some 120,000 refugees still in West Timor within the next two weeks.

The repatriation program was originally planned to be completed by the end of 2000.

About 250,000 East Timorese either fled their homeland or were forced out by anti-independence militia violence at the time of the territory's independence plebiscite from Indonesia in August 1999.

Morlan said about 2,800 East Timorese serving in the Indonesian military had left the territory after the plebiscite with their families and that "many of them" were now working for the government in West Timor.

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