Subject: JP: Thousands of East Timorese to return home soon

Also: Govt. Builds 1,200 Houses For E Timorese In E Nusatenggara

The Jakarta Post April 8, 2002

Thousands of East Timorese to return home soon

The Jakarta Post, Atambua, East Nusa Tenggara

More than a thousand East Timorese staying temporarily at refugee camps in Belu regency, East Nusa Tenggara, are confirmed to return home to East Timor in response to a call made by presidential candidate Xanana Gusmao here last week.

"Some 1,000 people have been recorded in Belu regency's refugee repatriation unit and they have been confirmed to be repatriated to East Timor next week," Belu District Military Commander, Lt. Col. Didi Sudiana said here last Saturday.

He pointed out that at least 320 people were scheduled to return to East Timor on Monday, some 200 people on Tuesday, 150 people on Wednesday and 350 people on Thursday.

"We're still registering other refugees to be repatriated on Friday. We expect that their number will increase as they have apparently become more interested in being repatriated after Xanana visited them last week," he said.

Until now, some 16,242 people, or 5,291 families, have been repatriated from refugee camps in East Nusa Tenggara to East Timor.

East Nusa Tenggara Public Relations chief Johanis Bastian Kosapilawan said in Kupang last Saturday that the province's refugee repatriation unit has been facilitating the repatriation program since last June.

Of the total number, some 3,449 families or 10,049 East Timorese received a special Christmas allowance of Rp 250,000 and compensation of Rp 750,000 per family.

Johanis said that he expected the total number of refugees returning home later this month would reach 20,000.

"We've seen recently their increasing interest in returning home. That's why we're sure the total number will jump this month," he told Antara last week.

He also agreed that the refugees' growing interest to return was due to a call made by Xanana who visited the area last week and the improving situation in East Timor, which will become a newly independent country in May.

Xanana, who is the nationalist hero of East Timor, is the most popular candidate for the May presidential election.

Johanis said interest was also strengthened by the Timor Leste's constitution that gives a chance to every East Timorese to witness the raising of East Timor's flag and the lowering of the United Nations' flag.

Meanwhile, Timor Tengah Utara's District Military Commander Lt. Col. Bambang Supriyanto said last Saturday that the refugee repatriation unit had never forced the refugees to return to their homes in East Timor.

"We've never forced them to repatriate. What we have done is promote their peaceful reconciliation and repatriation to their home towns in East Timor," he told Antara.

"Those who have accused the unit of forcing the refugees to return home should witness what we've done here in the refugee camps," he added.

-end-


Govt. Builds 1,200 Houses For E Timorese In E Nusatenggara

KUPANG, East Nusa Tenggara, April 9 (Oana-ANTARA) -- The government has given its green light for the construction of 1,200 houses in six regencies of East Nusa Tenggara for the East Timorese who have chosen to stay in Indonesia. The six regencies are Kupang (100 units), West Sumba (250 units), Ngada (250 units), Belu (100 units), Central/South Timor (100 units), and Alor and Sikka, respectively 200 units, head for area development at the East Nusa Tenggara Manpower and Transmigration Office Putu Yudha said here yesterday.

He said the development of settlements this year will be based on two patterns, namely centralised pattern and self-sufficient transmigration pattern, 600 units respectively.

Touching on the rehabilitation of houses in the Poto transmigration site, Yudha said it has been completed and the villagers have returned to their homes. -- Oana-ANTARA


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