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Apartments offered to Timor Leste refugees

Jakarta Post - December 10, 2011

Kupang – The Kupang regency administration in East Nusa Tenggara, has offered apartments to refugees from Timor Leste currently staying in makeshift shelters.

Over 1,000 families took refuge in East Nusa Tenggara when East Timor, now Timor Leste, became independent from Indonesia, following a referendum in 1999. They have since lived in shelters while the local government worked to find them permanent settlements.

Regent Ayub Titu Eki said that his administration was looking to provide decent settlements to the refugees. "It's difficult to meet their demands that a settlement be built with cultivated land," he said when meeting with a European Union monitoring team on Wednesday. "The solution is the government builds apartments with the hopes that the rest of the land can be used for cultivation," he said.

The refugees have complained about the settlements provided by the government. "The government has built settlements in a number of locations since 2001. But they are far from access to education, healthcare and economic opportunity. There is no electricity or clean water," Vasco Amaral, a refugee at Tuapukan village, said on Friday.

Margaretha, another refugee, said that around 500 school children might drop out because their parents faced financial difficulties.

The European Union has assisted 4,663 refugees with settlement, social facilities, healthcare, education services and economic empowerment, according to reports.