Subject: AFP: East Timor premier urges residents to return home, warns of aid cut

Agence France Presse -- English

November 7, 2006 Tuesday 12:23 PM GMT

East Timor premier urges residents to return home, warns of aid cut

DILI, Nov 7 2006

East Timorese languishing in temporary shelters must return to their homes before November 15 or risk having food and water rations cut by the government, Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta warned Tuesday.

Ramos-Horta said he saw no reasons for the tens of thousands of people to continue holing up at camps for internally displaced people (IDP), as the government was currently boosting security around the capital Dili.

The United Nations agreed last month to send more than 1,600 international police to fully restore stability.

At least 60,000 East Timorese remain in camps in Dili, saying they are too afraid to return home, while up to 70,000 are estimated to be sheltering in camps in other districts.

Since violence hit Dili in May, residents of the camps have endured intimidation and attacks by roaming gangs of youths and have complained that the government has not done enough to ensure their security.

"I am urging them to listen to the government and follow its policies."

"If they refuse to leave, each of them must bear the consequences because after six months (from May), there will no longer be distributions of food or water at the camps," Ramos-Horta told reporters after visiting a camp in Dili.

No force would be used to move the refugees, Ramos-Horta said, but warned that they will "have to bear their own burdens" if they insist on staying at the camps.

Ramos-Horta in September sought aid worth 4.5 million dollars from Norway to help move the refugees but the Norwegian government has yet to confirm whether they will provide any money.

East Timor, one of Asia's poorest nations, descended into chaos after some 600 deserting soldiers were sacked in March.

Back to November menu
World Leaders Contact List
Main Postings Menu