Subject: NGO leader warns gov't of delay in registering E. Timorese refugees


Kupang, E Nusa Tenggara, April 16 (ANTARA) - A non-governmental organization (NGO) leader has warned that the Indonesian government might be negatively propositioned in the international world for not being serious in handling the East Timorese refugees.

"As I see it, the repeated delay in the registration of (East Timorese) refugees (temporarily living in East Nusa Tenggara province) might give a negative impact on the Indonesian government in the international world," director of the Institute for the Advocacy and Study of East Timor, Yoseph Dasi Djawa, said here Monday.

The registration of refugees was originally scheduled to start early last March but has twice been postponed -- first to May 1, then to mid-May.

Dasi Djawa reminded that the delay might result in the loss of the political rights of the refugees in East Timor`s first general election.

"The registration working group should thus promote communication with all related parties," he observed.

The related parties include the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), and the refugee brotherhood association, Uni Timor Aswain (UNTAS).

"Even if the UNTAET does not provide any fund support, it can encourage other international agencies to do so. But of course, it would need lobbying," he said.

According to Dasi Djawa, a speedy repatriation of the refugees need to be encouraged, and in this light the importance of the registration takes precedence.

"The registration will, among other things, uncover the refugees` political preference (whether to go back to East Timor or to remain in Indonesia as Indonesian citizens)," he said.

"So, when the repatriation process starts, the refugees` citizenship shall have been assured. Those who opt to stay as East Timorese citizens will be repatriated, while those who choose to remain in Indonesia will be given their citizenship," he said.

East Nusa Tenggara`s Vice Governor Johanis Pake Pani recently disclosed that the refugee registration had to be postponed due to lack of funds.

"The central government controls the funding. So it depends on Jakarta to decide the start of the registration," he said.

According to Pake Pani, the Jakarta government has been lobbying a number of international agencies to provide the necessary fund. (U.Kpg-Pk01/Kpg01/INS/12:41/icl/12:50/ri3/16/04/:1 13:02).

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