Subject: AKI: No More Aid for Refugees from December says JRH

Also KY: Ramos-Horta says E. Timor on track for recovery after violence


Dili, 13 November (AKI) - East Timor's prime minister Jose Ramos-Horta has said the country's remaining 70,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) should return home as the United Nations Police (UNIPOL) can now provide for their security. In an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI), Ramos-Horta added that as from December the government will no longer provide aid and the IDPs should provide for themselves.

"As from December they will have to find their own food as my government will not longer be responsible for it," Horta told AKI.

"The security conditions have improved now. UNIPOL are established in many suburbs and they patrol Dili 24 hours a day. What are they still afraid of?" he added.

Horta's comments drew criticisms from Nuno Eugenio Gusmao, lecturer at the Australian Marist Brother university in Baucau district, who said the government has the moral obligation to support the IDPs whether they return home or not.

"What our prime minister said is not very wise," he told AKI.

In the meantime, refugees in one of the camps say that they still feel unsafe and have little to return to.

Margarida Castelejo Ximenes, 37, is a widower and has been living in a camp with her six children for six months. She relies on the government and international donors for food.

"I was a vegetable vendor at the market but now I am doing nothing. We depend on the government and NGO's aid. I have no home to return to; it was burnt to the ground by gangs," she told AKI.

Liborio dos Santos, 30, said he still has a house but does not want to go back.

"There is no one that can guarantee my security if my family and I return home," he said stressing that in the camps there is no privacy and there is shortage of clean water.

"We feel like birds in a cage and with no future," he added.

Jacinto da Silva, 32, pointed the finger at the Australian troops and UNIPOL, saying that "they are very weak in maintaining law and order in Dili."

Asked to comment on the IDPs' fears, Portuguese police Superintendent in Chief, Antero Lopes, acting UNIPOL commissioner in East Timor, told AKI that UNIPOL has established more police stations throughout Dili to respond better to the law and order situation in the capital.

"We will have dedicated monitoring programs to follow up the future resettlement of IDPs," he said.

Nearly 155,000 people fled their homes after violence erupted in the tiny Southeast Asian state following the dismissal of almost 600 soldiers by former prime minister Mari Alkatiri in May.

A relative calm returned after the arrival of foreign troops and the establishment of another UN mission.


Nov-13-06 10:49


Monday November 13, 7:13 PM

Ramos-Horta says E. Timor on track for recovery after violence

(Kyodo) _ East Timor Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta believes the security situation of his country has clearly improved since deadly riots in the capital Dili earlier this year.

"There is a lot of political dialogue going on now at many levels. There is much better security in Dili," Ramos-Horta said in a recent interview with Kyodo News during a visit to Baucau district, 80 kilometers east of Dili.

"What I learned from this crisis is we must always take prompt action whenever there are problems within the country or within institutions. We should not allow problems to grow and get rotten," he said.

The violence was sparked by the dismissal of hundreds of disgruntled soldiers in March. The wave of rioting, arson and looting lasted until June, leaving at least 20 people dead and prompting the government to ask for international help.

The government has been working to prepare conditions for thousands of people displaced by the violence to go home, he said.

U.N. agencies and the government estimate that the displaced people currently number around 25,000, compared with 70,000 in July, he said.

"I believe that by December we should have most of the camps in Dili closed," he said.

The government has to take immediate steps of building homes for the people and also create jobs for the youth to remove a cause of the fighting, he said.

Ramos-Horta said the crisis took a huge toll on the economy, with zero growth expected for 2006 compared with 6 percent posted the previous year.

"But by 2007, it can pick up again. The economy will grow very high next year because of the infrastructure development, roads, bridges, schools, and agriculture," he said.

East Timor is slated to hold its first presidential and legislative elections in April 2007, but Ramos-Horta said he would not be running.

"Many people have come to talk to me, the church, political parties, but I am not interested. I gave more than 30 years of my life for my country and I am tired," he said.

"So, in May 21, 2007, I intend to leave East Timor and go abroad for a few months to rest, read and then come back as a private citizen," he added.

East Timor became independent in May 2002, following a 1999 referendum in which its people voted to split from Indonesian rule after 24 years of occupation.

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