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Thousand of Australians willing to provide shelter to Timorese facing deportation

Lusa - September 25, 1997

Sydney – More than 10,000 Australians have said to be ready to provide shelter to East Timorese refugees facing deportation, despite risking two-year jail terms.

A spokeswoman for the Sanctuary Movement for Timorese refugees, Cath O' Connor told Lusa on Wednesday that the number of Australians ready to help East Timorese refugees "has increased considerably". The movement was created in 1995 after the government decided to change its policy towards the East Timorese who lost their refugee status to become Portuguese citizens.

Until 1995, the government considered East Timorese as Indonesian citizens, but after Jakarta's pressures, Canberra opted for their deportation.

More than 1,300 refugees facing deportation are still waiting for a final decision over their future.