Subject: AN: Local Govt, Int'l Organisations Agree On Mechanism To Help Refugee
Date: Sat, 17 Jul 1999 09:27:28 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>


07/14/1999 Antara - The Indonesian National News Agency

Dili, E. Timor , July 14 (ANTARA) - The provincial administration and various international humanitarian organizations here have agreed to apply a certain mechanism in the extension of aid to refugees in East Timor , a local government official said.

Soedarto, chairman of the Provincial Development Planning Board (Bappeda), told a press conference here Wednesday, the mechanism was necessary to prevent different political interests from interfering in the humanitarian efforts.

The mechanism was not different from that already used by Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) which had been cooperating with the local administration. These included CARE International and UNICEF, Soedarto said.

He further said the provincial administration, the P3TT, UNAMET, ICRC (Red Cross), UNHCR and UNICEF had also agreed to appoint three international institutions to serve as "bridges" in the distribution of assistance from NGOs which had not established cooperation with the local administration.

The three international institutions are UNHCR, UNICEF and ICRC. The NGOs can choose one of the three international institutions. "The three institutions are responsible for the activities of the NGOs in East Timor ," he said.

The Bappeda, as the provincial coordinator, would inform the district-level administrations concerned when any of the NGOs was intending to provide assistance to refugees in their respective regions.

"Requests for security escort for the assistance can be submitted to the police. If no escort is needed, the donor will sign a special letter in which case, if something happens, the police cannot be blamed," he said.

The agreement was reached to avoid misunderstanding both by the pro-integration and anti-integration groups about the intention of NGOs to provide assistance to refugees in East Timor . Such misunderstanding had happened in the recent Liquica incident.

Assistance may be provided through the three international institutions or directly by NGOs.

Data available at the local administration indicated that until July 10, 1999 there were 23,938 people or 5,028 families who were refugees in six districts, namely Dili, Manufahi, Bobonaro, Liquica, Ermera and Covalima, at 41 locations such as villages, subdistrict capitals and churches.

However, no data were available about the number of East Timorese who had fled to outside East Timor .

Meile, the UNHCR had put the number of refugees at 36,778. The data from UNHCR mention districts as places for refugees, while the data from the local administration also mentioned villages.

Vice chairman of the Indonesian government's Task Force for the Implementation of the Direct Ballot (P3TT) Yuwana said efforts were being made to enable the refugees return to their homes and steads so that they could take part in the direct ballot scheduled to be held late next August.

"However, as long as they have not returned, they should be provided with humanitarian assistance without certain political interests," Yuwana said.

It was incumbent on all parties concerned to support the creation of a situation that was safe and conducive for the ballot so that local people, including the refugees, can participate in the ballot, Yuwana said.

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