Subject: Donors would help resettle pro-Jakarta Timor refugees

Also: Indonesia Prepares List Of Needs To Repatriate, Relocate E Timorese Refugees

Japan Economic Newswire/Kyodo September 9, 2000

Donors would help resettle pro-Jakarta Timor refugees


DILI, East Timor,

International donors are ready to help Jakarta resettle pro- Indonesia East Timorese refugees in West Timor as long as they are allowed to choose their destinations freely, the top U.N. administrator in East Timor said Saturday.

'If the resettlement of East Timorese refugees who wish to remain citizens of Indonesia is carried out in accordance with basic humanitarian principles, the large donors have said that they are prepared to help,' Sergio Vieira de Mello told Kyodo News.

'I think there's no quarrel over that point,' he said, speaking a day after Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid called on the international community to share the financial burden of resettling refugees to solve the problem of violence caused by West Timor-based militias that oppose East Timorese independence.

A year after East Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence over continued Indonesian rule, some 120,000 East Timorese refugees remain in more than 200 squalid camps in the western part of Timor Island. Armed militias are using the camps as bases to plan and launch incursions into East Timor.

A militia-led mob of thousands stormed the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in the West Timor town of Atambua on Wednesday, beating and stabbing three foreign workers to death and burning their bodies.

'Maybe now our international friends will be ready to bear the cost of resettling the (pro- Indonesia) forces to other places, to allow them to live outside of Timor,' Wahid said while in New York attending the U.N. Millennium Summit.

'The international community demands we do this or that, but they don't give us the necessary tools to do so,' he said.

Indonesia has come under international pressure to deal with the militias in West Timor in the wake of Wednesday's killings.

The U.N. Security Council on Friday passed a resolution demanding Jakarta take immediate steps to disarm and disband the militias.

De Mello said if pro- Indonesia refugees are moved off Timor Island, international donors would require 'that this is done on a voluntary basis, that they are consulted, that they agree, that they choose the place to which they will be transmigrated.'

He called a resettlement plan recently put forward by Indonesian Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab 'very good because it states what he calls the 'sacrosanct' principle of free will.'

'As long as the free will principle is respected, we are on board. The donor community will help. They will not leave this burden exclusively on the shoulders of Indonesia. '

The Shahib plan calls for the closing of refugee camps close to the border between East and West Timor. Refugees who choose to remain in Indonesia would be relocated to transit camps away from the border before being permanently resettled in West Timor or other parts of Indonesia.

Those choosing to return to East Timor would be transferred to transit camps in the territory before going to their final destinations.

Indonesia has specifically sought international help for the establishment of the transit camps on Timor.

But de Mello said the transfer of pro-Jakarta refugees is 'not the central issue. The central issue is to enable the refugee population to exercise its free will.'

'They can only do so once the militia, the thugs, who can kill Timorese and they killed Indonesians, as they killed our soldiers here, and the three international staff of UNHCR, are effectively dealt with.

'Unless that happens...there will be no solution to the refugee problem in West Timor.'

But care must be taken in the resettlement process so that the militias 'don't transfer the trouble they caused other parts of Indonesia, ' he said.


Jakarta, Sept 11 (ANTARA) - President Abdurrahman Wahid has said his government is preparing a list of what it needs to repatriate or relocate East Timorese refugees, to be submitted to the United States government which has offered to fund the operation.

"The minister of home affairs and regional autonomy has been instructed to prepare the list, which would hopefully be handed over to Pak Dorojatun (Kuntjoro Jakti, Indonesian ambassador to the US) next week," President Wahid told newsmen Monday morning aboard a Garuda Indonesia airlines flight on his way home from his visit to the US.

He was accompanied by First Lady Mme Nuriyah Wahid, Foreign Affairs Minister Alwi Shihab, Cabinet Secretary Johan Effendi, and legislator Sembiring Meliala among others, as he attended the United Nations Millennium Summit in New York and as he had a medical check-up at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

President Wahid said the medical examination showed that he is in perfect health.

He said the American doctors and his own team of doctors only advised him to lose weight and avoid working until midnight.

He further said that he had discussed the assistance for East Timorese refugees with head of the US Senate's budget commission, Tom Harkins, during their meeting in Baltimore.

"The US has asked (the Indonesian government) to hand over the list soon, along with its estimated value in US dollars," he said.

President Wahid's meeting with Harkins was originally scheduled to be held in Washington DC, but Harkins and former US ambassador to Indonesia, Paul Wolfowitz, visited him in Baltimore, cutting his US trip by 14 hours.

The president was supposed to arrive here Tuesday had the meeting with Harkins been held in Washington DC.

Atambua incident

Commenting on the Atambua killings, President Wahid expressed his deep concern over the incident.

He also expressed hope that the international community would hasten to fulfill its promise to provide funds to repatriate or relocate the remaining East Timorese refugees in Indonesia.

A mob of East Timorese refugees, angered by the murder of a former pro-integration fighter, attacked and burned the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the town of Atambua in East Nusa Tenggara province last Wednesday.

Three UNHCR workers -- a Croatian, a Puerto Rican and an Ethiopian -- were killed.

President Wahid reiterated that Indonesia does not want to be blamed for the clashes among East Timorese.

He said many of them are reluctant to return to East Timor due to the economic and security uncertainties in the newly independent territory.

He also noted that the funds being used to support the refugees in East Nusa Tenggara come from the province's budget for development.

Asked whether the incident would affect the meeting of donor countries grouped in the Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI) in Tokyo this October, the president expressed hope that it would not.

"We hope that there would be an improvement (in the situation in Atambua) before the CGI meeting," he said.

Iraq visit

President Wahid also reaffirmed his plan to visit Baghdad second week of November to meet with his Iraqi counterpart Saddam Hussein, despite objections from the US.

The US in the early 1990s imposed an embargo on Iraq after the latter attacked Kuwait.

"How could we talk if a meeting is not allowed to take place?" he asked.

He noted that one of the points to be discussed in his meeting with Saddam is the possibility of releasing some 600 Kuwaitis still detained in Iraq.

"We should not let the Iraqis become the victims," he said about the US embargo which has led to the death of hundreds of Iraqis due to the deprivation of food and medicine.

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