Subject: LUSA: Half of Remaining Refugees Said Ready To Return Home

29 Apr 02 20:57 East Timor: Half of Remaining Refugees Said Ready To Return Home

More than 25,000 East Timorese refugees, about half the estimated number remaining in Indonesian West Timor, have registered for repatriation since the election of Xanana Gusmao as president on April 14, a provincial Indonesian official said at the weekend.

Stanis Tefa, head of West Timor´s department of social affairs, said Saturday in Kupang that most of the 7,600 families that registered indicated they wanted to return home in time to attend May 20 ceremonies marking the territory´s independence and Gusmao´s taking office.

Dili and UN agencies have estimated that about 50,000 East Timorese remain in West Timor.

About 250,000 fled or were forced into Indonesia by a wave of anti-independence violence unleashed by Indonesian security forces and militias at the time of East Timor´s August 1999 vote to break from Jakarta.

Since October 1999 more than 200,000 refugees and deportees have returned home.

SAS/ASP -Lusa-

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