Indonesia + 1 more

Aid to Indonesia welcome but concerns remain for West Timor refugees

Australian aid agencies today congratulated Mr Downer for his announcement that an extra $3 million would be spent in the troubled Indonesian provinces of Maluku and North Maluku. The aid is for urgently needed programs such as trauma counselling for the victims of violence and infant feeding for displaced children.
'This announcement sends the right signals to the Government of Indonesia, that Australia is prepared to support the Indonesian community in their transition to democracy and in dealing with the complex humanitarian problems and human rights violations. Australia needs to maintain its development aid commitments to Indonesia in rebuilding our relationship with the Indonesian Government,' said Mr Jim Redden, ACFOA's Policy Director.

While we welcome additional assistance for Ambon, we remain concerned about the plight of refugees in North Maluku and over 100,000 refugees still in camps in West Timor. ACFOA welcomes the decision by the Indonesian government to continue providing daily allowances to the refugees in West Timor on a month by month basis. ACFOA encourages the Australian Government to continue to work with the Indonesian Government, multilateral agencies and NGOs to ensure the following:

1. that sufficient food and medical resources are made available for the refugees in West Timor,

2. that there is sufficient time for refugees to make an informed decision on whether they wish to return to East Timor or resettle in Indonesia.

Mr Redden said, 'It is important for the Australian Government to work with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, appropriate Indonesian authorities and local communities for a fair resettlement process free of fear and threats. While recognising the need for a resolution to the resettlement process soon, more time and aid needs to be allocated to allow for a just process'.

Contact: Mr Jim Redden at ACFOA on (02) 6285 1816 or (m) 0414 257 446