Subject: AN: Govt to Build More Homes for ex East Timor Refugees

Jan 08 23:26

Govt to Build More Homes for ex East Timor Refugees

Atambua, E Nusatenggara (ANTARA News)- The Belu district administration, East Nusa Tenggara has built more houses in Babulu village, Kobalima subdistrict, for ex East Timor refugees who since 2000 were staying in the Wemer protected forested land, southern Belu.

In 2005, The Belu district administration had been cooperating with the UNHCR in the building of at least 200 resettlement homes in Babulu village for the former refugees. "We will try to provide with homes in the next few months," Head of Belu district Drs Joachim Lopez said in Atambua on Sunday.

Hundreds of hecatres of the forest had been cleared by the refugees to build farmland when at the end fo 2000 the United Nations World Food Program (UNWFP) and various other international institutions stopped their food aid.

The Belu district administration and the UNHCR, he said, built homes in Babulu district for the ex refugees to prevent them from damaging the Wemer forest.

However it would take some time and funds to move the ex refugees and they also have to be treated humanely. Therefore the government would need some time to collect the necessary funding and establish cooperation with donor institutions and organisations in the building of homes.

Data from the Belu district forestry agency said that this district covers 244,577 ha of land including 69,401.57 ha of forest.

For various reasons, the East Timorese refugees in 2000 started felling the Wemer protected forest as well as outside the forest reaching a total of 2,854 ha. At least 250 East Timor refugee families were staying in the protected forsted land.

The damage on the forest in Belu had caused concern of many sides including the local administration, but alsdo religious leaders, non-governmental organizations, community organizations, local traditonal figures and public leaders. "We all agree to restore the damaged forest for the safety of the next generations, said Belu district head Drs Joachim Lopez.(*)

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