All E.Timorese refugees must leave camps by Jan. 1; rioters to be shot
The Jakarta Post
December 31, 2001
All East Timorese refugees must leave camps by Jan. 1
Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Kupang
KUPANG, East Nusa Tenggara: In anticipation of possible unrest involving East Timorese refugees who refuse to quit their camps in West Timor all East Nusa Tenggara Police and military personnel are on alert to secure government’s assets in West Timor.
The move follows the government plan to vacate all refugee camps in West Timor starting Monday.
East Nusa Tenggara Police chief Brig. Gen. Yacobus Jacki Uli told reporters on Saturday that the Police’s Mobile Brigade (Brimob) members, and police personnel posted in West Timor, military troops from the Infantry Battalion 743 and 744 were all involved in the operation named Komodo Restoration Operation 2001 in anticipation of rioting.
“We are responsible for the security of the country, especially East Nusa Tenggara,” said Yacobus, adding that the Komodo Restoration Operation 2001 would last three months, starting Jan. 1, 2002, when all refugee camps will be vacated, and gradually closed.
Soon after the East Timorese referendum
in 1999, around 500,000 East Timorese sought refuge in West Timor. Later,
the number gradually decreased as many opted to return to East Timor. In
December 1999 only 100,000 people remained in West Timor’s refugee camps.
Since then the government had provided them with 400 grams of rice and
Rp 1,500 per day for each person.
The government had earlier said that it was time the refugees became independent.
Now that the government has decided to stop the aid, their refugee status will be withdrawn, and they must be independent and try to survive as other fellow citizens do.
The refugees have been given the chance to decide whether to join a resettlement program or be repatriated to East Timor, provincial spokesman JB. Kosapilawan said last Thursday.
Several regencies, including Kupang, South Central Timor, North Central Timor, Belu, East Sumba, West Sumba, Manggarau and Lembata are ready to accept the refugees who want to resettle in the province.
Those who want to be migrate overseas will be resettled in East and Central Kalimantan and Maluku provinces.
“They (the refugees) should have made the decision before Jan. 1, 2002,” Kosapilawan said.
“The camps will gradually be closed as the government’s aid will halt by the end of December, and the police will take stern measures against those who refuse to leave the camps,” he said.
According to Brig. Gen. Jacobus, the officers would take preventive actions to deal with the refugees. “However, those rioting or provoking violence will be shot on sight. This is to prevent social conflicts from spreading in the province.”
Similar statements were also made by chief
of the 161 Wirasakti Military Command Col. C. Moesanip.
“I have instructed all my subordinates not to allow anyone to disturb security in West Timor.
BD: 'Refugees' & Missing Persons / 'Refugiados' e Desaparecido / 'Réfugiés' ou Déplacés / - A collection of recent information, reports, articles and news