BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor .........home .........August news

"As East Timor holds its first election on 30 August, an estimated 10 per cent of its population living in refugee camps in West Timor will not be participating in this process. According to JRS West Timor, some 80,000 refugees remain, ... Many refugees are still expected to return to East Timor. JRS East Timor director, Frank Brennan SJ, said the people in the camps are now waiting for a negotiated settlement between their leaders and an elected government in East Timor. “Generally people seem resigned to waiting until given the word from someone higher up whom they trust that it is time to move,” said Fr Brennan." Jesuit Relief Service
See also: BD: 'Refugees' & Missing Persons

BD: Peoples' Participation / Participação Dos Povos / Partisipasaun Politika

 

Jesuit Relief Service

West Timor alert

29-08-2001

Refugees await election outcome

As East Timor holds its first election on 30 August, an estimated 10 per cent of its population living in refugee camps in West Timor will not be participating in this process. According to JRS West Timor, some 80,000 refugees remain, up to 20,000 in camps around Kupang, 20,000 around Betun, and 40,000 around Atambua.

A registration process conducted in June by the Indonesian government, allowing the refugees to choose between resettlement in Indonesia and repatriation in East Timor, supposedly revealed that 98 per cent expressed their wish to remain in Indonesia. However, despite the fact that the UN failed to publicly reject the registration (UNTAET participated in an international observer mission and endorsed the resulting report), the registration has been discarded by humanitarian NGOs operating in West Timor, including JRS, as a sham, littered with widespread irregularities.

Many refugees are still expected to return to East Timor. JRS East Timor director, Frank Brennan SJ, said the people in the camps are now waiting for a negotiated settlement between their leaders and an elected government in East Timor. “Generally people seem resigned to waiting until given the word from someone higher up whom they trust that it is time to move,” said Fr Brennan.

Misinformation continues to play a dominant role in deterring refugees from going home. JRS East Timor member, who visited camps in the Betun and Atambua areas earlier this month, reported “an absolute lack of accurate information regarding the situation in East Timor and the ongoing prevalence of misinformation”. To the JRS team, it was clear that this was still a major factor for non-return although the majority of refugees they met intended to return to East Timor. Many had in fact registered with either JRS Betun or SATGAS-PMP (Indonesian government task force charged with organising refugee returns) to do so after the election.

People implicated in the violence of 1999 have also expressed their intention to return. The JRS team spoke with militia members who were willing to go back to East Timor and be arrested and tried for whatever they may have been involved in. However, these people were concerned over the fate of their wives and children if they were to return and be imprisoned. Several had practical concerns regarding shelter, food and employment prospects for their spouses and other dependent family members.  It appeared that it was only high level militia leaders who were still interested in spreading propaganda and keeping the refugees in West Timor.

JRS reported an increase in salaries and pensions for ex- TNI, POLRI, MILSAS and PNS since Megawati had become President of the Government of Indonesia. This is expected to impact heavily on this group’s decision to return.

Overwhelmingly, the JRS East Timor workers found that refugees were extremely concerned over the security situation in East Timor surrounding the election and how it might impact their lives in West Timor.

Most of the refugees who the JRS team members spoke with spontaneously questioned them for accurate information about the security situation in East Timor, health facilities, schooling, farming and the progress of development and restructuring in East Timor.

Meanwhile, although there seemed to be fewer complaints than previously about food and health, conditions in the camps remain poor. JRS reported increasing levels of refugee deaths especially amongst the very young and the elderly. On average children were succumbing to malaria while the elderly were being afflicted by cholera. They reported that they heard of refugee deaths almost every day they were visiting the camps around Betun and Atambua.

In terms of food, there were still inconsistencies between camps regarding regularity and amount of food being officially distributed. Some refugees had not received rice or money from the government for four months, while others were receiving regular food supplies from the government (12kg per person per month). Most refugees were growing their own food and were surviving on a subsistence of corn. JRS observed high levels of malnutrition in children with distended stomachs and very thin ankles and wrists.

http://www.jesref.org/alerts/tplates2.htm


Spanish / espanhol:
El Servicio Jesuita a Refugiados (JRS): Accompañar, Servir, Defender  Added Mar 24
El Servicio Jesuita a Refugiados es una organización católica internacional que trabaja en más de 40 países, con la misión de acompañar, servir y defender los derechos de los refugiados y desplazados forzosos. La misión confiada a JRS comprende a todos los que han sido apartados de sus hogares por los conflictos, los desastres humanitarios o las violaciones de los derechos humanos, de acuerdo con la enseñanza social católica que define como refugiado “de facto” a múltiples categorías de personas. La razón de ser de JRS está íntimamente liada a la misión de la Sociedad de Jesús (Jesuitas), a saber, el promocionar la justicia del Reino de Dios en diálogo con otras culturas y religiones.
International: CP 6139, 00195 Roma Prati, Italy. Tel: +39-06 689.77.391; Fax: +39-06 687.92.83; Email: international@jesref.org
Asia Pacific: Tel: +66 - 2 279 1817; Tel: +66 - 2 278 4182; Fax: +66 - 2 271 3632 Email: asia.pacific@jesref.org
Para pedir información sobre JRS, diríjase a la persona de contacto del Servicio Jesuita a Refugiados en su país de residencia. La oficina internacional de JRS también tiene un servicio de información. URL: http://www.jesref.org

English:
Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS): To accompany, To serve, To advocate  Added Mar 24
The JRS is an international Catholic organisation, at work in over 40 countries, including East Timor and Indonesia, with a mission is to accompany, serve and defend the rights of refugees and forcibly displaced people. The mission given to JRS embraces all who are driven from their homes by conflict, humanitarian disaster or violation of human rights, following Catholic social teaching which applies the expression ‘de facto refugee’ to many related categories of people. The purpose of JRS is intimately connected with the mission of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), namely to promote the justice of God’s Kingdom, in dialogue with cultures and religions.
International: CP 6139, 00195 Roma Prati, Italy. Tel: +39-06 689.77.391; Fax: +39-06 687.92.83; Email: international@jesref.org
Asia Pacific: Tel: +66 - 2 279 1817; Tel: +66 - 2 278 4182; Fax: +66 - 2 271 3632 Email: asia.pacific@jesref.org
Contact JRS contact person in the country where you live. The JRS International office also provides an information service. Homepage: http://www.jesref.org  Timor alerts: http://www.jesref.org/inf/alert/tplatest.htm


See also:

BD: 'Refugees' & Missing Persons - A collection of recent information, reports, articles and news

BD: Peoples' Participation / Participação Dos Povos / Partisipasaun Politika - A collection of recent media releases, reports and articles


BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor .........home .........August news
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