Subject: KY: Over 1,000 stranded E. Timor children reunited with families

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

Over 1,000 stranded E. Timor children reunited with families

DILI, East Timor, June 24 (Kyodo) - More than 1,000 East Timorese children who were displaced in violence following the 1999 U.N.-backed referendum on independence have been reunited with their families, an official of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said Monday.

Jake Morland, a UNHCR external relations officer, said returning the children to their parents is the priority of the UNHCR.

Thousands of East Timorese kids were stranded in the turmoil before and after the referendum held in August 1999, in which East Timorese voted overwhelmingly in favor of separating from Indonesia.

''Well, this is a slow and difficult process. So far since 1999, we have repatriated or reunited over 1,000 separated children with their families,'' Morland said.

At least 2,000 East Timorese children are still in Indonesia including West Timor, he said, adding investigations are needed to clarify their number.

''We have a very good level of cooperation with the Indonesian government, particularly here in Dili with the Indonesian mission,'' Morland said. ''We cannot do this job without assistance of Indonesian authorities.''

East Timor gained its independence May 20 after 450 years of Portuguese colonial rule, interrupted by three and a half years of Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1945, 24 years of Indonesian occupation, and more than two and half years under the U.N. administration after the referendum.

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