Subject: JRS: Further Resettlement of East Timorese to West Sumba

Jesuit Refugee Service Indonesia

Further Resettlement of East Timorese to West Sumba

The project of resettlement to the Soru village in West Sumba is will be completed with the departure of 6 families of former East Timorese refugees to the island of Sumba. The Soru village community has welcomed 40 families of former East Timorese refugees, who fled East Timor in 1999, after violence broke out following a referendum for independence.

After 1st of January 2003, all East Timorese refugees in Indonesia have been considered Indonesian citizens and no longer have refugee status. In January 2004, 15.699 former refugees still remained in camps in West Timor. Local communities around the camps in West Timor are working to retrieve the land of the camps, and in some areas tension has increased. Settlement in Timor has proved difficult due to complicated land rights issues. Another solution has been resettlement to other islands, such as Sumba.

Jesuit Refugee Services works together with the government, UNHCR and partners to facilitate resettlement to Soru, West Sumba. 34 families have already departed to Soru, where they have received livelihood packages from the local government and the UNHCR. JRS will identify another 6 families who will be ready to leave from West Timor within short time.

The local government and the local population in Soru have promised their new neighbors full access to village facilities and official registration as regular citizens. According to the custom in Sumba, the new villagers will go through traditional ceremonies to settle into their new homes.

Publication Date : April 17, 2004 11:12 AM

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