Subject: Regencies Don't Want Ex-Militia Timorese Refugees

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

The Jakarta Post

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Regencies don't want ex-militia

Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara

At least five of 14 regencies in East Nusa Tenggara have refused to give land for resettlement areas for thousands of East Timorese refugees still languishing in camps across the province.

The rejection was made in a joint statement by the five regents of Kupang, South Central Timor, North Central Timor, Alor and Belu.

A copy of the letter was sent to the Coordinating Body for Disaster Prevention and Refugee Handling (Bakornas PBP) in Jakarta.

Stanis Tefa, secretary of East Nusa Tenggara's taskforce of PBP, confirmed on Monday the refusal by the five regencies.

"It's true that we have received a written statement from those regents, which says they will not provide land for resettlement areas for East Timorese refugees," he told The Jakarta Post.

Tefa, who is also the secretary of the provincial administration, said the protest would have a serious impact on efforts to deal with the refugees, particularly those who have decided to stay in Indonesia as citizens.

"The regents want the East Timorese refugees resettled outside East Nusa Tenggara because they cannot mingle with local people. That's why we need to find an alternate solution by relocating them to Kalimantan or other provinces across Indonesia."

Tefa said the number of East Timorese refugees still in the camps in the five regencies was around 28,000, comprising 9,000 families.

Most of them are former pro-Indonesia militias who were refused repatriation to their homeland of East Timor. [Poster's note: No East Timorese have been refused repatration by the UN or East Timorese government, thoughs oem have been told they may face prosecution for past crimes.]

The refugees have refused to be resettled in any of the nine other regencies of the province, but it was not clear why.

"Following the rejection, the East Nusa Tenggara administration will ask the central government to find some land outside the province to resettle the refugees," Tefa added.

The refugees were among some 250,000 people who were forced to flee from East Timor during the intense violence in aftermath of the vote for independence in 1999.

However, most of them were repatriated to East Timor over the past four years.

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