Subject: Indonesia abolishes refugee status for East Timorese

Also: Indonesia abolishes refugee status for East Timorese, safety "guaranteed"

BBC Monitoring International Reports


Satunet: Citizens from East Timor who are still detained in East Nusa Tenggara have to be aware that, as outside settlers, they have to seek a livelihood in order to continue living.

That was the hope of 161/Wirasakti Military Provincial Commander Col Moeswarno Moesanip, on Wednesday 2 Jan in Kupang.

"They have no other choice but to seek out a livelihood because there is no more humanitarian aid for the East Timorese refugees now," he told the press.

From 1 January 2002 the government no longer recognized the term refugee and had ceased to provide humanitarian aid to the East Timorese refugees. This means that they have to seek a livelihood to live from day to day.

For two years since fleeing to the Eastern region of East Nusa Tenggara in September 1999, the citizens from East Timor have received rather special treatment from the Indonesian government.

They received rice and subsistence money from the government, whilst the Indonesian citizens who had fled as a result of political conflicts - as in Ambon, Maluku, Poso, Aceh, Irian Jaya and Kalimantan - were not treated like the East Timorese refugees, according to Antara news agency .

In order to prevent social jealousy amongst refugees, the government decided to stop humanitarian aid and no longer use the term refugee within Indonesia.

The government took this action because the economic condition of the nation was continuing to suffer a downwards slide and foreign debt continued to increase from year to year...

The government has offered programmes of repatriation (returning to their home villages in East Timor) and also local transmigration and general transmigration...

Source: Satunet web site, Jakarta, in Indonesian 3 Jan 02

Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring

January 3, 2002, Thursday

Indonesia abolishes refugee status for East Timorese, safety "guaranteed"

SOURCE: Media Indonesia, Jakarta, in Indonesian 3 Jan 02

BODY: Text of report by Indonesian newspaper Media Indonesia web site on 3 January

The safety of refugees is still guaranteed: Even though the government has abolished refugee status for the refugees from East Timor with effect from 31 December 2001, Commander IX/Udayana Military Area Command Maj-Gen Willem da Costa, stated that he would still guarantee their safety.

"They do not have refugee status. However, a guarantee of their safety has been given", he said on Wednesday 2 Jan . After farewelling President Megawati Soekarnoputri on her journey back to Jakarta on Tuesday (1 Jan), the two-star general told journalists that there were currently hundreds of thousands of refugees from East Timor in the East Nusa Tenggara region. "There are still many living here, however we do not have any accurate data, because the figures vary from one agency to another. But in principle, they are still being made to feel safe", he said.

According to him, every day there are refugees returning to East Timor. "Moreover, since the Indonesian government had given them a final payment of 700,000 rupiah and IX/Udayana Military Area Command had also donated seeds to plant, many refugees were interested in returning to East Timor".

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