|Subject: TEMPO: UNHCR Sets Six-Month Limit
for Repatriation of East Timorese Refugees
UNHCR Sets Six-Month Limit for Repatriation of East Timorese Refugees 18 May 2002 19:3:45 WIB
TEMPO Interactive, Dili :In a press conference held by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the newly elected president of East Timor Xanana Gusmao in Dili on Saturday (18/5), UNHCR’s High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers said that the process of repatriating East Timorese refugees has continued.
Some 205,000 refugees in West Timor have returned to East Timor. Two-thirds of the remaining 50,000 refugees in West Timor are expected to return to East Timor.
According to Lubbers, every day there are always refugees who return to East Timor, with the support of the UNHCR.
The UNHCR has set a six-month limit for the repatriation process.
Lubbers said that after this period, the UNHCR would declare that the process had been settled and refugees would no longer have refugee status.
“ Six months from now, East Timorese refugees in West Timor will not be considered as refugees,” stated Lubbers.
East Timor Refugees Matter To Be Settled Within Six Months
TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta:The Indonesian government has promised to settle the matter of East Timor refugees within a six-month period.
President Megawati Sukarnoputri made this commitment during a meeting with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)’s High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers at the presidential residence in Jakarta on Friday (17/5).
Some refugees residing in the West Timor area have refused to be relocated to other island or removed through a transmigration program.
The president and Lubbers discussed the matter of refugees in relation to the independence of East Timor that is to be declared on May 20.
“A total of 200,000 East Timorese were recorded to have sought refuge in Indonesia. However, only few intend to remain in Indonesia. Most of the refugees have been repatriated to East Timor,” Lubbers told journalists after his meeting with the president.
Due to this, Lubbers said, a solution must be made to repatriate some 15,000 refugees who still remain in West Timor.
They could be repatriated to East Timor or located in an island between Bali and East Nusa Tenggara.
“The president has agreed to establish a cooperation in handling this matter,” said Lubbers. Lubbers also said he considered Megawati’s decision to visit East Timor as positive. (Dede Ariwibowo Tempo News Room)
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