The United Nations refugee agency will then close down operations, a senior UN official said yesterday.
The Dili-based chief of operations for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr Bernard Kerblatt,
appealed to Indonesian authorities to "accelerate the process" of returning refugees and called for an act of free choice to determine how many East Timorese wished to live in Indonesia or return home.
More than 250,000 East Timorese fled or were deported to West Timor
after political violence following the August 30, 1999, ballot for
More than 176,000 of them have since returned home, but the UN believes as many as 80,000 remain in West Timor.
Mr Kerblatt's comments underscore mounting exasperation by UN aid agencies about the slow progress on repatriation. Failure of the Indonesian authorities to act on the warning could lead to an increase in inter-communal violence between West Timorese residents and East Timorese refugees, Mr Kerblatt said.
The United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) wants all refugees returned before the end of voter registration on June 20 and there are signs that pressure is being exerted from Jakarta to speed the process.
But a call by the UNTAET chief, Mr Sergio Vieira de Mello, for a policy of forced camp closures by the Indonesian military has been rejected after initially being accepted by the new UNHCR High Commissioner, Mr Ruud Lubbers.
Jan 20 OTL: Refugiados: Quantos são? Quantos querem voltar para Timor Leste?
"Interesses políticos e económicos impedem uma contagem credível dos refugiados. As autoridades indonésias aceitaram a presença das agências humanitárias internacionais para receber as ajudas, mas pouco fizeram para o desmantelamento das milícias, que continuam a controlar os refugiados e os regressos, em estreita colaboração com militares indonésios e partilhando com eles os direitos de passagem exigidos aos que querem voltar para Timor Leste." OTL
Jan 20 ETO: Refugees: How many?
How many want to return to East Timor?
"Political and financial interests are getting in the way of a credible census of the refugees. While the Indonesian authorities agreed to the presence of international humanitarian agencies in order to receive their aid, Jakarta has done little to disband the militia gangs that still control the refugees and repatriation, and collaborate closely with Indonesian soldiers, sharing with them the rights of passage demanded from those wishing to return to East Timor." ETO
Also News from WTimor:
Feb 19 NTTX: Indon reporters: At
this time Timor Lorosae is a nation that's safe
"The conclusion is that Timor Lorosae is now a safe country, especially in Dili, and not some joke so that there is no reason for Timor Lorosae people in refuge to be afraid to go home except for those whose hands are "bloody," because their fear really exists inside themselves wherever they go." NTT Ekspres
Feb 19 ST: Former Civil Servants, Military and Police Well Received in ET
Feb 19 RT: Former Militias
Block "Smuggling" Refugees
BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor home March news
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