Subject: Indonesia to resettle 32,000 E. Timorese families in other regions

Indonesia to resettle 32,000 East Timorese families in other regions

JAKARTA, Oct 18 (AFP) - Indonesian authorities will resettle 32,000 families of refugees who fled East Timor following the pro-independence ballot there, to other regions inside the country, a report said Monday.

A staff expert to the transmigration and resettlement ministry, H. Suleman said the 32,000 families were those who had refused to be returned to East Timor, the Antara news agency said.

But he did not say how the government had arrived at the figure, which would translate into some 160,000 people, taking the one family is five people calculation normally used by Indonesian officials.

Some 260,000 people have fled or were forced to flee East Timor into neighbouring West Timor by the violence that followed the announcement of the ballot results on September 4.

Up to 190,00 other people had also fled cities and towns in East Timor for the safety of the jungles and hills inside the territory.

Suleman said that the refugees will be resettled in East Nusatenggara province which includes West Timor, in neighbouring West Nusatenggara province as well as in Kalimantan and in Sulawesi.

But he gave no further details.

"There is no pressure, it will be up to them top decide in which province they want to resettle," he said.

Suleman said so far the bulk of the refugees had opted to stay in East Nusatenggara.

He said several resettlement projects aimed at accomodating people moved under a government's program to alleviate the densely populated islands of Java, Bali and Madura, will now be prioritized for the East Timorese refugees.

International aid agencies began to repatriate refugees from West Timor to East Timor 15 days ago, and are scheduled this week to speed up the process by using ships which can carry 5,000 to 6,000 people a day.

International aid agencies are hoping the selection of where to go -- back home or to other places in Indonesia -- can be made voluntarily, despite the heavy presence of pro-Jakarta militia in the refugee camps in East Timor.


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