Subject: West Timor commander vows commitment on East Timor refugee issue

Indonesia: West Timor commander vows commitment on East Timor refugee issue

BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Jul 10, 2001

Source: Kompas Cyber Media web site, Jakarta, in Indonesian 10 Sep 01

Kompas: Udayana Military Area Commander Maj-Gen William T da Costa said he and his men were so committed to the repatriation of East Timorese refugees that he needs two offices-one in Denpasar, Bali and the other in Atambua, on the East Timor border.

"Since becoming commander I have encountered many problems but the issue of refugees has been a priority... " he told a UN Secretariat Unsecoord (United Nations Security Coordination) team in Kupang on Sunday (8 July).

Da Costa added that because he had served as a soldier in East Timor while it was still part of Indonesia, he has a very strong emotional attachment to the area and is strongly committed to building an atmosphere of mutual understanding between the refugees and the West Timor locals.

TNI have publicized that more than 12,000 refugees have repatriated to East Timor while 100 standard military weapons and 107 grenades have been seized.

He also said he warns the refugees constantly that it would be better to surrender any weapons still in their possession to TNI or Polri [National Police], which he claims makes it difficult for former militia in the camps to carry weapons freely.

"I can't say for sure that all weapons have been confiscated but I am sure there is no one openly armed," he said. [passage omitted]

For security reasons, in the western half of NTT [East Nusa Tenggara] 386 TNI soldiers have been deployed to the Wirasakti 161 Military Provincial Command to help police handle the issue of refugees. TNI have also voluntarily released more than 200 of its soldiers to return to Timor Leste [East Timor].

Besides the Wirasakti 161 Military Provincial Command, there are also units from Java, Kalimantan and Sulawesi who make up three battalions deployed on the Belu district border with East Timor and between the North Central Timor district with Ambeno, an East Timor enclave in NTT.

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