Subject: JP: Allowance for E. Timor refugees

Jakarta Post August 21, 2001

Allowance for E. Timor refugees

KUPANG, East Nusa Tenggara: The government has offered a bonus of between Rp 7 million and Rp 15 million to each East Timorese family currently living in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) who are willing to return home.

East Nusa Tenggara deputy governor Johanis Pake Pani told The Jakarta Post in Kupang on Monday that the bonus was considered the most appropriate format for settling the refugee issue because since their exodus to West Timor in 1999, hundreds of billion of rupiah had been spent on their daily needs.

The East Timorese repatriation program is organized in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration, the UN High Commission for Refugees and various world humanitarian bodies.

Pake Pani indicated that with a view to reducing the state financial burden, the government was convinced that by giving such allowances to those ready for repatriation, the budget ceiling for refugees across the country (now numbering up to two million) could be lowered.

"Camp life is much costlier than repatriation expenses and the government cannot afford to support their needs any more," he said.

Data provided by a number of government agencies, private institutes, international nongovernmental organizations and other world bodies handling refugees in the province show that over Rp 530 billion has been disbursed for the evacuees, coming from state and regional budgets, foreign aid and third-party donations.

The deputy governor, concurrently the regional coordinator of East Timorese refugee registration, also confirmed the manipulation of data by heads of camps, which has lead to misleading figures that show a significant increase in the number of refugees.

It is alleged that refugee registration had been marked up to 340 families or 11,606 people as listed in a number of camps, thus enabling them to receive more aid than was actually needed.

Therefore, he continued, "the government will issue new identity cards (KTPS) for refugees to replace the yellow cards they received in June to prevent double allocations."

"All refugees families are now required to possess KTPS in order to get their fair share. Those having no such cards will be denied aid," he added.

Based on figures of the Central Board of Statistics registration committee, there are 51,868 families or 284,148 (sic) East Timorese refugees in the province, lower than the provisional June data of 53,000 families or 295,754 people. (30/arp)

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