|Subject: JP: East Timorese refugees demand
aid to live
Received from Joyo Indonesia News
The Jakarta Post July 2, 2002
East Timorese refugees demand aid to live
Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Kupang
Hundreds of East Timorese refugees continued to protest in front of the East Nusa Tenggara governor's office on Monday, demanding the Indonesian government resume aid deliveries to the approximately 20,000 refugees entering their fourth year of exile in the province.
In the second demonstration since last Saturday, the refugees demanded financial aid, food assistance and grants for small businesses. They also asked for transparency in the channeling of a Rp 53.21 billion (about US$6.1 million) grant from Japan.
The cash-strapped Indonesian government halted aid for the refugees last January. The United Nations also suspended its aid program and urged the refugees to return to the now stable East Timor.
"These demands to review the suspension of the aid program are impossible to meet," said an official from the provincial administration, Tuce Manungga.
However, he added, a program to assist 574 small businesses owned by refugees was being discussed with the Kupang administration.
Regarding the Rp 52 billion grant from Japan, Tuce said a portion of the money would go toward constructing 4,000 houses for refugees who agreed to join the government's resettlement program. These houses are scheduled for development this year, he added.
"Refugees must immediately make a choice; either go home to East Timor or be resettled," he said.
Over 100,000 East Timorese fled to the western part of Timor island to escape the violence that swept across the former Indonesian province in 1999.
Prointegration militias, allegedly with the backing of the Indonesian Military, went on a rampage in East Timor after a UN-sponsored referendum ended in an overwhelming vote for independence.
Entering the fourth year of exile and after six months of no official aid, conditions at the refugee camps have worsened.
Feliks Fernandez, the coordinator of the rally, said refugees were struggling to find food to survive.
Some girls are even selling themselves to raise money for their families, he was quoted as saying by Antara.
He said the refugees would continue their protests until the government heeded their demands.
Timorese continue protests
KUPANG, East Nusa Tenggara: East Timorese refugees living in various camps in West Timor continued with their protests on Tuesday, demanding aid from the government for some 20,000 refugee families, or some 54,000 refugees in all.
Tuesday's protest was the third since Saturday.
Protest coordinator Feliks Fernandez told reporters that they would continue their protests until the government heeded their demands.
"We feel we are being neglected by the government," he said, adding that refugees had had a tough time of it since the government halted official aid to them at the end of last year.
The government has adamantly stated that it will not resume aid to the refugees, and has asked them to choose whether they want to return to East Timor or join a government resettlement program.
Meanwhile, the head of East Nusa Tenggara's Social Affairs Office, Stanis Tefa, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday that the local administration might consider providing emergency aid to the refugees.
He said his office had offered to provide eight tons of rice to the refugees, but the offer was rejected by representatives of the refugees who had instead demanded continuing assistance.
Note: For those who would like to fax "the powers that be" - CallCenter is a Native 32-bit Voice Telephony software application integrated with fax and data communications... and it's free of charge! Download from http://www.v3inc.com/