Subject: AN: UN to conduct joint info campaign in W Timor



Antara Interactive - NATIONAL NEWS (3/10/01)


Tuban, Bali, March 10 (ANTARA) - The UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), other UN agencies and East Timor`s civilian police will conduct a joint information campaign among the East Timorese refugee community in East Nusa Tenggara (West Timor) from March 19 to 23, a local military chief has said.

Udayana Military Region chief Maj Gen Williem T da Costa made the remarks shortly before he met with Army Chief of Staff Gen Endriartono Sutarto at the VIP room of the Nugurah Rai airport here Friday night.

In the information campaign, the UNTAET would give explanations on its status and function as the central transitional administration in East Timor following the popular consultation on August 30, 1999.

Meanwhile, a UN organization dealing with international migration (IOM) which would take part in the campaign would be tasked to prepare transportation means for East Timorese refugees who wished to return to their homeland.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the civilian police in East Timor would explain their respective functions in East Timor, da Costa said.

"From the explanations, the refugees are expected to get a picture about conditions in East Timor, and about the certainty of their fate in their homeland," da Costa said, adding that the campaign did not aim to persuade or even force the refugees to repatriate.

The National Defence Forces (TNI) and all the relevant parties, da Costa said, would remain consistent with human rights principles in dealing with the refugees who were free to choose to return home or stay in Indonesia.

On the plan to register the refugees, da Costa said the registration should be conducted as soon as possible or earlier than the schedule in May, 2001, to enable the refugees to choose whether they wanted to ramain in Indonesia or return home.

Accordng to data collected by the Udayana military command, the number of East Timorese refugees who had already returned home was 7,000 while 121,000 were still living in camps in East Nusatenggara.

"If the registration could be done earlier, the refugees would have more chances to determine their choices consequently, especially in view of the holding of general elections in East Timor in August," he said.

Concerning pessimistic predictions by some political quarters about the campaign program and registration of refugees, da Costa said it was anybody`s right to believe or not to believe in the government`s efforts in this respect. (U.DPS01/FN01/IAJM-17:30/fn01)

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