Venidora Oliveira – Timor-Leste Defense Force (F-FDTL) Chief, Major-General Lere Anan Timor has called on the government to give more attention to the wellbeing of 23 veterans who retired in 2015 and now live in miserable conditions.
He said the veterans were retired by the institution because of their age based on the military statute law.
Although the government provided reintegration subsidies to the veterans when they retired, it was only a one-off payment and not enough to meet ongoing living costs. "They live and die in poverty, [so] they need attention," he said.
In response to the issue, Defense Minister Cirilo Cristovao said the government had already provided a total of $15,000 in subsidies, which had been shared among the 23 veterans when they retired.
"We also built houses for them in Baucau, Viqueque, Lospalos and Ainaro and the places are decided by them," he said.
He said although the government recognized the contribution made by those who sacrificed their lives for the country's independence, he acknowledged that it could still do more and therefore several programs had been created to respond to the situation faced by veterans.
Meanwhile, national MP Albina Marcal said veterans had suffered a lot for their country and deserved to live a better life now Timor had won its independence.
"They (veterans) sacrificed their whole lives for this country during [the past] 24 years and the State should treat them well," she said.