BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor home

"The Indonesian government must be serious in giving attention to resolving East Timor refugee problems in TTU [West Timor] where the total number of refugees continues to rise from day to day."
Radar Timor, 6 Dec 2000
Below are translated summaries of articles from Indonesian newspapers. For a more complete translation of any of the following articles, please send your request to Eliot Hoffman, East Timor Action Network/US, who will forward it to the translator. Please include the name of the newspaper/s, date/s, and article title/s.

Newspaper key: NTT X NTT Ekspres; PK Pos Kupang; ST Surya Timor; RT Radar Timor

English language newspapers available online:

5 & 6 Dec Indonesian Press: Several news items related to East Timorese Refugees
Edited by Eliot Hoffman, East Timor Action Network/US

Tuesday, 5 Dec. 2000

RT "300 refugee babies and toddlers malnourished"

ATAMBUA Conditions of E. Timor refugee babies and toddlers still in W. Timor is very sad.  At least 300 of them staying in emergency tents and resettlement houses in Umakalaran Village in Belu are suffering from malnutrition for lack of food for them.  This was reported by Director of the Foundation Loyal to Welfare, Lusianus Amaunut in Atambua yesterday after registering babies and toddlers who need food aid.  He said his NGO, which is active in the field of community health work and economic empowerment of poor families, had contacted government agencies and several national and international NGOs to give attention to the children.  He said that all food and medical aid for Umakalaran needed to be delivered during the dry season because during the rainy season
there is no bridge that crosses the river that separates that village from Atambua.

From Jan. 2000 until early Sept. this NGO was working with Care International to provide food supplements to as many as 6000 babies and toddlers, as well as to pregnant and nursing women.  Since the killing of UN personnel in Atambua on 6 Sept., this aid has stopped.

The NGO also distributed worm medicine provided by MSF and high protein food for 6-11 year old children given by UNICEF.  The food supplements were given not only to refugees but also to local residents as hosts to the refugees and to reduce jealousy.  It is difficult to reactivate the working relationship with CARE because this international organization will feels trauma related to the Sept. 6 incident.  "We have data on the number of babies and toddlers suffering from malnutrition, but we don't yet have a working partner who cares about this humanitarian problem," said Lusianus.

NTT X "Sulamu refugees sit-in at Social Dept."

KUPANG Hundreds of E. Timor refugees staying at the Sulamu refugee camp used two trucks and one pick-up came in an orderly fashion to sit-in at the Kupang Social Dept. on Monday (4/12).  They said they did not want to disturb the peace, but that they would not leave the office unless their demands of 10 days ago that they be paid money for food supplements and receive rice aid for the past three months were met. Two trucks that these refugees held hostage beginning on 24/11 have also not been released.  Their actions stem from dissatisfaction with the aid relief they now get.  Earlier each refugee received Rp. 45.000,-/month and 12 kg. rice, but for the past three months they have received only Rp. 15.000 and 10 kg. rice/month/person.  If the NTT govt. hasn't the funds, they are asking for transport funds for several representatives to go to Jakarta to meet with Commission VII of the national House of
Reps. as the commission responsible for handling refugees.

Information from Kupang police is that efforts have been made to take back the trucks from the refugees, but because their demands haven't been met, then they are unwilling to release the trucks.  The refugees first went to the Kupang police to ask for a police escort.  They then went to the NTT Social Dept. and finally the Kupang Social Dept. where they are holding their sit-in.  At the police office, three refugee representatives Erik Wolter, Napoleon da Silva, and Erijo said they wanted to demand the government give them the full amount of aid as they had been receiving before.  Concerning the police request to turn over the trucks, Erik said they would only turn them over when their demands were met, but they would not damage them until then.

PK "Number of E. Timor refugees in TTU swells"

KEFAMENANU The number of E. Timor refugees now living in TTU has increased from 16,350 individuals to 20,539 individuals or 5,520 households.  This data is not yet final because there are still village reports to be submitted.  Earlier, head of the TTU Social Dept., Bene Banu, said on 18/11 that the increase was due to several factors:

  1. earlier data was incomplete and didn't count refugees in all locations,
  2. the possibility that refugees who have gone to Ambeno have returned, and
  3. some names on the list are double.
As a result the third phase of aid consisting of 190 tons of rice for 16,350 refugees won't be enough for more than 20,000 individuals to receive allotments of the same amount as 16,000 would receive.

The article ends with news of the refugees in Sulamu who have made demands regarding their food supplement funds (see above).

Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2000

RT - "The government must be serious about handling refugees in TTU"

KUPANG - The Indo. government must be serious in giving attention to resolving E. Timor refugee problems in TTU where the total number of refugees continues to rise from day to day.  "If no concrete steps are taken by the government to finalize the problems, there will be a broad impact on the lives of local residents" said Vice Speaker of the TTU House of Reps., Raymundus Fernandez in Kupang yesterday.  According to him, TTU once held only 12,000 refugees, but in the past few months the total has jumped to 25,000.  The total has only been recently known after the government did a repeat registration to provide food aid.  "We were also surprised because UNHCR had said it had repatriated thousands of refugees, but the reality is the refugees increase from day to day," said Fernandez.  He said he didn't know for sure the reason for the increase, but it was estimated that E. Timorese who have been repatriated or who returned voluntarily to Timor Leste have run back to W. Timor for various reasons.  To return to W. Timor from Ambeno only takes 2-5 hours by foot.  He said the increase means that the camps in TTU can no longer hold all the refugees so that their conditions are cause for great concern.  Besides that, food aid for them is also hampered because all parties are concerned about undesirable reactions.

"We have prepared food aid for only 12,000 people.  When this aid was to be distributed, the total number had increased by more than 100% to 25,000 so that officials made lots of mistakes.  The concern is those who don't receive aid will make problems in the field," he said.  The TTU regency government has suggested to the central government that the refugees immediately be relocated and live on their own so that they don't keep depending on aid.  "I'm convinced they would prefer to live in one location and have fields to farm that they can manage themselves, rather than continue to live in camps as refugees," said Fernandez.  He said living in a residential location would provide a much better life and future, especially for children to continue their education.

RT - "Provincial and national branch offices throw responsibility to each other: Refugee students complain"

KUPANG - The fate of refugee schools is certainly cause for concern. Although the govt. has plans to build school buildings in refugee locations, in reality several tent schools don't yet have such facilities so that students must study in tents with dirt and muddy floors.  This was witnessed by RT last week at the Catholic grade school in Namfalus Village, Kobalima Sub-regency in Belu where two classrooms were built for refugees with tents and walls made from palm leaves.

Local and former E. Timor teachers teaching refugee children said they are forced to use the simple rooms because they are still waiting for aid to handle educational needs of refugees.  "We know there is a budget to build a refugee school not joined with the local school, but until now this has not been realized so that the local grade school is unable to hold all the students.  And the small house made from tarps will not last. Therefore, we ask for help from the party that handles this problem, to help our situation as quickly as possible.  Because they are joined with a local school, the refugee children are forced to wait until the others are let out of school so they can use the local children's classrooms.

This is the issue for which different branches of the Indo. Ed. Dept. lay responsibility on each other.  Employees of the NTT provincial. Ed. Dept. say the problem is to be handled by the National branch office, while workers there say the problem is the responsibility of the NTT provincial Ed. Dept.  Said Drs. Zacharias Angkasa of the NTT provincial office, "Just ask the head of facilities and buildings of the National Ed. Dept. in NTT about the matter of aid funds to build a school building for refugees."  Head of the Building and Facilities Division of the NTT Branch of the Natl. Ed. Office, Drs. Sixtus Tey Seran said that although his office handles grade school educational matters, aid funds to build educational buildings and facilities for refugee schools is handled by the NTT Provincial office.  "It's not true if those in the Provincial office say the National Branch office is handling the refugee school.  Once again, that's not true.  It is precisely the Provincial office that is responsible for this problem because the funds are with
them.  Please, reporters, check again regarding the funds that are with them."

NTT X - "E. Timor refugees shift sit-in to NTT Social Dept."

KUPANG - After sitting at the Kupang regency Social Dept. for 24 hours without their demands being met, E. Timor refugees from the Sulamu camp moved their sit-in to the NTT Social Dept. on Tues. (5/12).  Before they moved, NTT X observed that several workers at the Kupang Social Dept. went home because they were frightened by the refugees threats that they would hold workers hostage if their demands weren't met.  When a worker at the Kupang office was asked why the refugees hadn't received attention, he said it was because the head of the office was not there. Head of the Kupang Social Dept., WZ Johannes, when approached
separately, said the refugees, who were participating in the sit-in were receiving food, but was reluctant to give more detailed comments.  About 103 refugees from Sulamu and Tuapukan have occupied several rooms in the Regent's office that have been intentionally left unlocked.  The two trucks held hostage in Sulamu have not been released.   The refugees are protesting a drop in the size of allotments for rice and food supplement funds they have suffered for the past three months.

ST "Thousands of E. Timor refugees threatened with hunger: Food availability thin"

ATAMBUA A Golkar delegate to the Belu House of Reps. from Lamaknen, Matheus Bere Bau, said E. Timorese now concentrated in Lamaknen need food aid because they have no food at all.  Refugees in Lamaknen, who are spread out in Kewar, Henes, Lakmaras, and Weluli villages as well as several locations directly on the border with Timor Leste, work together with local residents in managing gardens by planting corn, beans, and cassava  There's a good possibility they will harvest at the end of January as the corn is growing so well.  The problem now is that these refugees, the majority of whom are from Bobonaro and Kovalima, have no
food right now.  During the recent dry season they lived off wild beans and cassava, but that food is now gone.  Matheos has asked the provincial government to try and save these people, what more they are still entitled to allotments of rice and money for food supplements.

Last November, refugees in Lamaknen received a five-day allotment of Rp. 7.500,- and 2 kg. of rice/person.  According to data, they have already received three allotments of rice of 6 kg../person.   But the media reports that in other areas like TTU and Kupang, refugees have received 20 kg. rice and Rp. 30.000,-/person.  Matheus says the Belu government needs to explain if the refugee service system and aid allotments are different in each regency.  If so, when will they be made the same?

Even though they are in different regencies, the refugees status as refugees is the same, so an explanation is needed to prevent jealousy among refugees.

Edited by Eliot Hoffman, East Timor Action Network/US
East Timor Action Network U.S.
ETAN is a U.S. based activist group presenting a wide range of articles, news reports and press releases related to East Timor. ETAN/US also provides ways to help East Timor, which was invaded and subjugated by U.S. ally Indonesia in 1975. East Timor chose independence in August 1999 and was soon destroyed by the Indonesian military. It is now administered by the U.N.. ETAN advocates human rights accountability, return of refugees and democratic reconstruction of East Timor.
BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor home
Website: Email: