Subject: JKPIT: Data on the Number of East Timor Refugees in NTT

Subject: Data on the Number of East Timor Refugees in NTT

EASTERN INDONESIA WOMEN¹S HEALTH NETWORK (JKPIT)

October 26, 2001

The Data on the Number of East Timor Refugees in NTT

The problems of East Timor refugees along the border of West Timor and Timor Leste becomes prone-to-conflict region which can bring about riot and social unrest leading to the disintegration of the nation, said 1X Regional Military Commander of Udayana, Mayjen TNI Willem T. da Costa.

In the last days nearly every day a group of refugees return to Timor Leste. On Thursday (25/10) 500 people joined repatriation program and will be followed by another 1,000 people on Friday (26/10).

In connection with the data on the number of East Timor refugees in NTT, Indonesian Minister of Manpower and Transmigration, Jacob Nuwa Wea here in Kupang, Wednesday (24/10) said that he did not trust the data on the number of the refugees in NTT. Based on the data submitted by NTT government there are around 250.000 East Timor refugees in NTT, but another report said that the refugees return to Timor Leste from time to time. Based on the latest information, presently there are 120.000 East Timor refugees in NTT. From TTU district it was informed that due to the unceasing intimidation, some refugees returned to Timor Leste without informing their camp coordinators.

In response to the plan to stop the relief aids, a number of East Timor refugee leaders coming from different camps in Kupang, threatened to take their own means in order to be able to eat in case the government is serious with its plan. Such a threat was aired during their dialogue with NTT House of Representatives. However, kind of means was not verbalized. In Atambua region, West Timor, there is the issue to stage a big rally in response to that of government¹s plan. While in TTU district a forum monitoring relief aids to East Timor refugees, whose members are the students of Timor University (formerly Timor Timur University), will continue to demand relief aids for East Timor refugees despite it will be officially ended.

The condition of the refugee camps in West Timor is currently apprehensive due to the rain and the wind. Although it has rained the provision of clean water is still very limited in many camps that a good number of refugees have to fetch dirty water from creek or river.

The violence specifically domestic violence remains dominant in the camps. There is also the issue of illegal prostitution both in TTU and Belu districts as well as along the border of NTT and Timor Leste.

The refugees in Lolowa camp, Belu district still assume that East Timor has not gained its independence as long as there are still many refugees in West Timor. Quite a number of refugees, including a number of former East Timor policemen want to return to Timor Leste if there is a guarantee from Xanana to grant amnesty for them when they are still in Indonesia.

EASTERN INDONESIA WOMEN¹S HEALTH NETWORK (JKPIT)


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