Subject: AN: Indon Gov't Urged to Draw Up Repatriation Scheme for Border-Crossers


November 19, 2004 9:53pm Antara

Atambua, E Nusa Tenggara, Nov 19 (ANTARA) - The Indonesian government should draw up a new scheme to repatriate East Timorese who illegally cross the border shared by Timor Leste and Indonesia's East Nusa Tenggara province.

The request was made by public figures and former East Timorese refugees on Friday, following the rise in the number of illegal border-crossers from the East Timorese districts of Bobonaro, Covalima and Oecusse, which share a border with East Nusa Tenggara.

"Many East Timorese enter East Nusa Tenggara just like when Timor Leste was still part of Indonesia. As such, the Indonesian government should draw up a new repatriation scheme, Vincentius B Loe, chairman of the Solidaritas Foundation (Yasso), said.

"We usually bring them (illegal border-crossers) to the police in Belu or Timor Tengah Utara districts," he said.

He noted that most of the illegal border-crossers are women and children, who have to wait for several days before they are sent back to their home country.

In the meantime, they eat what they could eat, he said, pointing out that this scheme is ineffective.

Meanwhile, former East Timorese refugee, Francisco Soares Perrera, said most of the illegal border-crossers enter East Nusa Tenggara for family reunions.

They enter without understanding that what they are doing is illegal, he said.

"East Nusa Tenggara is home to the traditional East Timorese. Thus, if they are to be sent home, they should be deported in the subdistrict border where they were arrested," he said.

He said they should not be brought to the police in Belu or Timor Tengah Utara, which are geographically distant.

"They (illegal border-crossers) are modest people who do not care about borders," he pointed out.

Head of the immigration office in Belu's capital of Atambua, Slamet Santoso, shared the view, saying not all illegal border-crossers need to be brought to the police for questioning.

They could be deported in the subdistrict border, Slamet said.

"Only those who need to be questioned further should be brought to Atambua or Kafemenanu," he said.

East Timor was a province of Indonesia until the majority of its people opted to separate from the republic in a United Nations-sponsored ballot in 1999.


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