Subject: UNHCR sends East Timorese refugee back to E. Nusa Tenggara

The Jakarta Post [online] July 5, 2001

UNHCR sends East Timorese refugee back to E. Nusa Tenggara

JAKARTA (JP): The United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees (UNHCR) Wednesday sent East Timorese refugee Veronika Ote, 19, back to Indonesia's East Nusa Tenggara province, saying she did not meet the requirements to be repatriated to East Timor.

Veronika returned to Indonesia through the Motaain border post, around 30 kilometers east of Atambua, the capital of Belu regency, Antara reported. She was accompanied by two UNHCR officials, Alberto Carlos and Rui Lourencio.

Carlos said Veronika arrived in East Timor on June 28, together with a group of refugees. Upon arriving in Dili, they went through a series of administration checks and it was decided that she did not meet the requirements for repatriation.

"The UNHCR official who interviewed her found she did not meet one of the requirements to live in East Timor," Carlos said as quoted by Antara.

Only refugees who were born in East Timor, have parents of East Timorese descent, marry an East Timorese or whose father of mother is an East Timorese or have lived in East Timor for a minimum of five years, can join the repatriation program.

"She did live in East Timor but only for three years, from 1995-1998," Carlos added.

Carlos said Veronika could return to East Timor using a passport and could stay for a maximum of 90 days.

Veronika meanwhile said she left for East Timor on June 28 with her three siblings after two years of living in a refugee camp in Timor Tengah Utara regency, her birth place.

"I will return to my parents' home and one day, when I have a passport, I will visit East Timor," Veronika said.

She said her three siblings, Bene Celo, Wilhelmina Celo and Oktovianus Usfinit, had lived in East Timor for more than six years and held East Timor's ID cards. She said they were forced to flee to Timor Tengah Utara after the August 1999 ballot.

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