Subject: Minister, TNI chief to hand over 1,000 more houses for E. Timorese

via Joyo News

The Jakarta Post [website]

Monday, February 1, 2010

Minister, TNI chief to hand over 1,000 more houses for E. Timorese

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Social Affairs Minister Salim Segaf Al-Jufri and Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Djoko Santoso are scheduled to officially hand over an additional 1,000 houses for former East Timor refugees in Kupang, East Nusa Tengara, on Monday.

Al-Jufri and Joko, however, failed to fly to Atambua, Belu regency in East Nusa Tenggara, where most of the refugees were located, because of bad weather. Instead they went directly Kupang's El Tari airport to Oefafi village, also in Kupang, reported.

Of the 1,000 houses, 620 units are located in Kupang and the remaining 320 units are in Belu regency. The houses were constructed through a cooperation between the Social Affairs Ministry and the military last year.

Previously the government had handed over a total of 7,000 houses for the former refugees.

Tens of thousands people are reportedly still living in emergency barracks, and thousands of families still have no access to government assistance after the independence of East Timor in the 1999 referendum.


Jakarta Post

Letters: Locals in NTT also need help

Fri, 02/05/2010 10:47 AM | Reader's Forum

This is in response to a news report titled "Minister, TNI chief to hand over 1,000 more houses for E. Timorese, (the Post, Feb. 1).

Providing a total of 8,000 houses to Timor Leste residents who opted to return to/stay with Indonesia after the referendum in 1999, should be set against the abject poverty of most of the indigenous population in Kupang and Belu regencies.

The gesture of resettlement assistance is similar to what is provided to transmigrants in other parts of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) such as Maluku, Sulawesi, Papua and Kalimantan.

Local people do not have such a development advantage and remain poor because making a living in these parts of West Timor is very hard and little government assistance in terms of health care, education, a clean water supply is adequately provided to improve living conditions.

It should be noted that most of the Timor Leste "refugees" are/were not indigenous to Timor Leste but from other parts of Indonesia and had lived there for years.

After their arrival in NTT, few assimilated into their assigned communities, and, in many instances, have, through aggressive behavior, created much discord with their autonomous neighboring communities competing (often fighting) for the scarce resources to allow for a minimal existence.

Most of the "refugees" were working for or with the TNI in Timor Leste before it became independent.

Many were from the notorious militias set up and trained by the TNI and violence is nothing new to them.

For years, the UN Refugee Agency and the World Food Program, often young people with little exposure to the type of culture they have to work in and going around in their expensive four-wheel drives, have been involved in helping to create an orderly resettlement and presumably assimilation in the West Timorese communities.

After more than a decade, millions of dollars, and much food aid, little has changed from the early days of these refugees' arrival in their resettlement areas. Timor Leste has asked them to return; at least those with East Timorese papers.

Some have successfully, however, the generous assistance given by the TNI, the governments of Kupang and Belu and the central government of Indonesia is too easy an existence to give up for a new life of uncertainty in their own homeland.

Too much pampering has made the old warriors soft! It is high time for a new policy towards these "refugees"! Perhaps the TNI can recruit them as border guards in the many far-flung islands of our country?

Henry Manoe Kupang 

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