|Subject: RI, Japan at
odds over West Timor aid
The Jakarta Post
RI, Japan at odds over aid
KUPANG, East Nusa Tenggara: The East Nusa Tenggara administration and the Japanese government are at loggerhead over the designated use of Japan's Rp 53 billion in aid for refugees.
Yasuhiro Sugata, who was sent by the Japanese Foreign Ministry to investigate the distribution of the financial assistance, wants the government to distribute all the aid to East Timorese refugees in West Timor while the provincial administration wants to use part of the money to help locals affected by the refugees' presence.
Deputy Governor Johanis Pake Pani confirmed on Friday that both sides had yet to reach an agreement.
"Local people will feel jealous of the refugees who easily gain financial assistance from donor countries while they are only watching," he said.
He said the Japanese envoy went back to Japan to consult with his government because he did not have the authority to make a decision.
He added the provincial administration would meet the Japanese again if it turned down the province's proposal. -- JP
Japan upset over undistributed aid
JAKARTA: Yasuhiro Sagata, an envoy of the Japanese Foreign Affairs Ministry met East Nusa Tenggara Governor Piet A. Tallo to question the whereabouts of the Japanese government's Rp 53 billion (about US$6 million) in financial assistance for East Timorese refugees.
During the meeting, Sagata explained that he was sent directly by his government to ask why the financial assistance that was sent three months ago had yet to be disbursed to the refugees.
He cited that during the difficult economic situation, the Japanese government was obliged to be completely accountable for its foreign assistance and to be transparent with its taxpaying public.
The head of the local social affairs office said that the financial assistance was granted not only to help refugees but also to empower the local people in West Timor.
Also attending the meeting was Robert White, representative of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Jakarta.
Sagata's mission comes after the refugees held a protest rally at the provincial administration to complain about the undisbursed Japanese government aid.
Stanis Tefa, an official at the provincial administration claimed recently that the funds were being held up by the central government.
The Jakarta Post
Refugees rally over Japanese humanitarian aid
Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara
Dozens of people claiming to represent thousands of East Timorese refugees sheltering in camps in West Timor rallied at the gubernatorial office in the regional capital of Kupang on Tuesday to demand a quick disbursement of US$5.38 in humanitarian aid from the Japanese government.
The group, calling themselves the Presidium of East Timor Refugees, urged the provincial government to pressure Jakarta to use the funds to feed the refugees, who they claimed were starving.
Coordinator of the demonstration, Hukman Reni, told The Jakarta Post the refugees did not intend to challenge Jakarta's policy, but they questioned the Indonesian government's slowness in addressing the refugee problems.
"Over the past week, refugees have been suffering from hunger. It is no longer a threat but a serious reality after two people who lived in refugee camps in Tuapukan and Noelbaki died," Hukman, an advisor of the refugees, said.
Indonesia has set an Aug. 31 deadline for some 50,000 East Timorese refugees who remain in shelters across the province to choose between repatriation and resettlement. Jakarta has stopped supplying humanitarian aid due to financial constraints.
About 250,000 East Timorese streamed into neighboring West Timor after violence ravaged their homes in the aftermath of the independence vote to split from Indonesia in 1999.
Social affairs assistant to the provincial secretary, Stanis Tefa, said the local government had forwarded the refugees' demands to the National Refugees Settlement Coordinating Body in Jakarta.
"We just execute Jakarta policies. It's up to the central government whether the Japanese aid will be disbursed to help the refugees," Stanis said.
A deputy to the coordinating body's chief, Budi Atmadi Adiputro, said in his letter to Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Yusuf Kalla, dated July 3, that the Japanese humanitarian aid would be used mainly to repatriate the refugees and to help them develop their resources.
The money has been placed in an account with state bank BNI in Harmoni, Central Jakarta, Budi said.
Following widespread concern about the use of the aid, Japanese government treasury official Yasuhiro Sugata will arrive in Indonesia on Wednesday to review the use of its use. His visit has been arranged by the Japanese Embassy in Indonesia.
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