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Subject: East Timor Refugees Left Out in Cash Aid
The Jakarta Post Friday, October 21, 2005
East Timor refugees left out in cash aid
The Jakarta Post, Kupang, Semarang
photo: Returned Cards: An employee at the Central Statistics Agency in Semarang examines fuel compensation cards which had been returned to the office. As of Thursday, the office had received over 12,000 cards, often because they were given to the wrong people. (JP/Suherdjoko)
While many poor families have started to receive cash aid from the government, more than 1,000 poor refugee families in Kupang are missing out.
Muhazir Hornay, the refugee coordinator at the Noelbaki shelter in Kupang Tengah, Kupang, said on Thursday that all of the refugees had received identity cards and were recognized as Indonesian citizens ahead of the legislative and presidential elections last year. The group are from the former province of East Timor, now Timor Leste.
"When we were declared Indonesian citizens, why didn't we get rice for the poor or cash aid? Is there first and second-class citizens in this country, meaning the local (Kupang residents) receive the assistance while the refugees don't," Hornay said.
He said his people had no land to farm and still lived in makeshift shelters built for them in 1999.
"During the elections, political parties and campaign teams from presidential and vice presidential candidates came and promised that our fate would change if we supported them. But the fact is that now we're being neglected," Hornay said.
Meanwhile, a councilor from East Nusa Tenggara provincial council, Thom Taebenu, blamed the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) for leaving out thousands of poor families and listing rich families instead.
"The council sees that the BPS has not been working very hard. Why are refugees and poor residents not registered to receive the Rp 100,000 (US$10) a month cash aid," Taebenu said.
Verification result of the early registration showed that 20,470 poor families in Kupang municipality were not on the list, according to the head of East Nusa Tenggara province's Village People Empowerment Agency, Willem Nope.
In his report to Governor Piet A. Tallo on Thursday, Nope also said that only around 3,000 out of the listed 23,553 poor families entitled to the cash aid in the city had actually received the money. The report also mentioned that 674 ineligible families faked cards to get the aid.
In Semarang, thousands of fuel compensation cards had been returned back to the BPS office, often because the information on them was incorrect.
Provincial BPS head Soehandono said on Thursday the office had received 12,442 out of the distributed 2.4 million fuel compensation cards. "I'm sure the number of fuel compensation cards being returned to us will increase in number," Soehandono said.
Under the scheme, each poor family receives a bulk sum of Rp 300,000 for three months but poor registration and distribution systems have delayed the payments and caused protests in many parts of the country in which two people died.
"We'll fix the data. In Semarang city alone, 288 cards have been returned through each subdistricts," said Rusdiarto Harun Subari of the BPS, adding that some 69,000 cards had been distributed in the city.
He said the BPS has tried to prevent mistakenly listing poor families -- data which came from village heads, subdistrict offices and BPS staff.
A poor family, he added, should meet at least nine out of the 14 set-criteria to allow them to receive the cash aid. The criteria included having a house with wooden or bamboo walls or unplastered cement wall, not owning a bank account, and being unable to pay for basic medical care.
"We'll try to spread information on the 14 criteria of poor families. Let the people learn on their own whether they're poor or not, so there won't be protests."
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