Subject: 8,000 E. Timor families opt to stay in Indonesia

The Jakarta Post December 13, 2002

8,000 E. Timor families opt to stay in Indonesia

Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Kupang

At least 8,000 East Timorese families seeking refuge in West Timor had decided to stay in Indonesia, a local military commander said Thursday.

The government was now preparing a transmigration scheme and developing housing complexes for them, Kupang military chief Col. Moeswarno Moesanip said.

The housing complexes are located on several islands, including Sumba, Flores, Timor and Alor.

"Once the construction of the houses is completed the refugees will be asked to move to their new locations."

Some 250,000 East Timorese fled to Indonesia's West Timor in September 1999 after pro-Jakarta militias went on bloody rampage in the former Portuguese colony, killing hundreds of pro-independence supporters and destroyed almost 80 percent of infrastructure there.

Most refugees have returned to East Timor.

Moeswarno called on the families to register for either resettlement or transmigration programs immediately.

He warned the refugees that facilities such as water, electricity and health services would end on Dec. 31 due to financial constraints.

He said there were currently around 10,000 East Timorese families in Indonesia's West Timor.

Moeswarno said that of the 8,000 families opting to stay in Indonesia, 6,000 were military, police and civil servant families, while the remaining 2,000 families were former members of pro-Jakarta militias.

"At least 8,000 families have opted to be Indonesian citizens and they will not return to East Timor."

Meanwhile, hundreds of refugees went to the office of East Nusa Tenggara Governor Piet Tallo on Thursday to urge the provincial administration to relocate them soon.

Separately, the former chief of the pro-Jakarta Makiki militia, Lavaek, said all civilian refugees and ex-militiamen were ready to join resettlement programs.

He said the ex-militiamen from Viqueque district had opted to move to Sumba island.

Most of the refugees are currently living in the regencies of Belu, Kupang and North Timor Tengah.

In a related development, Moeswarno said Indonesian security officers and the United Peace Keeping Force (UNPKF) had agreed to improve border security after learning that hundreds of East Timorese had entered Indonesia illegally.

"Since there is an increase of intruders, both sides agreed to improve monitoring."

The military chief also denied accusations by East Timorese Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta that the deadly riot in Dili last week was provoked by former pro-Jakarta militia members.

He said the Indonesian military had received an explanation from UNPKF officials who said the riot was accidental and would not expand to other locations.

"That accusation is baseless," Moeswarno added.


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