The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) today announced the launch of a final push to help refugees return to Timor-Leste by the end of this year.
An estimated 220,000 East Timor residents who fled to West Timor in the immediate aftermath of the 1999 independence referendum have already gone back, but some 30,000 remain in camps in the Indonesian province of West Timor, according to UNHCR.
Timor-Leste’s President, Xanana Gusmão, accompanied by UNHCR and IOM officials, travelled to West Timor today in a bid to stimulate the return of remaining refugees.
UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond explained that the agencies would help those willing to return by providing a repatriation package containing a one-month supply of food, as well as a variety of domestic items. In addition, the Indonesian Government has pledged to give about $162 to each returning family.
The spokesman emphasized that those East Timorese who decide not to go back will have the possibility to remain in West Timor or resettle in other parts of Indonesia.