Subject: 152,000 E. Timorese in Camps Too Afraid to Go Home: UN
August 4, 2006
East Timorese in camps too afraid to go home: UN
An estimated 152,000 East Timorese who fled their homes in the wake of violence in May remain in camps because they are too afraid to return home, the UN humanitarian coordinator here said.
Finn Reske-Nielsen said that while it was difficult to keep reliable figures, some 72,000 people continued to receive food aid in Dili.
An estimated 80,000 more were displaced outside the capital, he said.
Asked what was keeping them there, he told AFP: "Fear, first and foremost."
"There's no doubt that the international forces have reestablished peace and security in Dili, but I think there's a perception among many of the IDPs (internally displaced people) that the fundamental issues have not been resolved," he said.
"The political issues are still there, there are still a number of weapons out in the general population, the people who committed crimes during the crisis have not been prosecuted -- those are some of the factors, but on top of that the situation is still somewhat volatile," he said.
He said other issues such as ownership of land and property were also emerging and would need to be dealt with to encourage people to return home.
The East Timorese capital was wracked by violence in May when infighting among security factions in the military and police erupted and degenerated into ethnic warfare on the streets.
At least 21 people were killed and about 3,200 international peacekeepers were deployed to restore calm.
The UN issued an emergency appeal in June for 18.9 million dollars to cover three months of operations. Reske-Nielson said the funding was sufficient for humanitarian purposes for the moment.
------------------------------------------ Joyo Indonesia News Service