Subject: JP: Provinces offer a place to call home for Timor refugees

The Jakarta Post July 3, 2001

Provinces offer a place to call home for refugees

KUPANG, East Nusa Tenggara (JP): Five provinces outside of East Nusa Tenggara have offered places for East Timor refugees who have chosen to stay in Indonesia, an official said on Monday.

Head of the province's Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration office, Yoseph Setyohadi, identified the provinces as South Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, Irian Jaya and Maluku.

"The East Nusa Tenggara government will follow up the offer as soon as possible and send the refugees to the new settlement areas," Yoseph said.

He gave no details about when the refugees would depart for their new homes and how many people each province could accommodate.

Separately, former pro-Jakarta East Timor leader Eurico Guterres demanded that the government act consistently in handling the refugees.

He was commenting on certain government officials who expressed doubts over Jakarta's capability to host all of the East Timorese who had opted to remain in Indonesia.

Over 98 percent of the 105,800 registrants voted for Indonesian citizenship last month. Of some 250,000 refugees who flocked to West Timor following a rampage of violence in 1999, only adults were eligible for registration.

Eurico insisted that the central government immediately proceed with the resettlement program and repatriate those who wished to return to East Timor.

"Nobody should suspect political maneuvers had a hand in the results of the registration. None of the refugees were intimidated or forced to stay with Indonesia.

"A lot of funds have been disbursed by both the government and international organizations to cope with the refugee problem. But the matter has worsened now, indicating the presence of dishonest people who work under the guise of humanitarian causes.

During his visit to Kupang last week, Coordinating Minister for Social, Political and Security Affairs Agum Gumelar said the government was determined to take immediate steps toward settling the issue of East Timorese refugees in West Timor.

"Their living conditions are very unfavorable. The government will adopt better measures to relieve their suffering," said Agum after inspecting refugee camps in Haliwen-Atambua, Belu regency. 

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