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Two hundred ex-Falintil members at UNTAET sit-in

Suara Timor Lorosae - August 16, 2001

Aout 200 ex-Falintil members on Tuesday staged a one-day sit-in at UNTAET headquarters to demand that the United Nations fulfill its promises to the former freedom fighters.

Domingos da Silva, spokesperson for the ex-Falintil said the group of freedom fighters that did not meet the grade to enter the Timor Lorosae Defense Forces (FDTL) were in dire straits.

"From January to May, these former Falintil fighters were getting US$100 a month as living expenses. Now they are struggling because these payments from the IOM have stopped," he added. Domingos said jobs and housing were promised to the Falintil veterans but the UN agencies had yet to fulfill these promises.

Meanwhile, former CNRT President Xanana Gusmao when contacted said the issue was an internal matter. "We, being the ex-Falintils, have nothing much. But we have to work for ourselves and look for business opportunities. It's a matter of filling our bellies," he said.

But ex-Falintil Julio da Costa said there were some ex-Falintil members who were disabled from the war the war. "Many of them are handicapped physically, after being injured in the war, and are unable to work. These former fighters need help and we just can't ignore them," he added.