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Durable Solutions Needed For IDPs On East Timor

Published: Mon 10 Dec 2007 10:52 PM
NRC advocates for durable solutions for IDPs on East Timor
Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) emphasized the need to address the land and property issues for IDPs, when the Norwegian Minister of Finance visited East Timor Sunday.
NRC also stressed the immediate need for dialogue between the government and communities in those areas of the city where people were displaced, in order to have a chance, if any, for the return of the IDPs.
According to NRC, solutions without dialogue, reconciliation and properly addressing the land issues, will only facilitate the few and also these will be in a very fragile situation. 100 000 persons, ten percent of the population, are still internally displaced more than one and a half year after the riots in April and May 2006.
"We wanted the Minister to see with her own eyes how the people are suffering. People lack essential items like food and medicines and the overall humanitarian situation is critical," NRC Country Director Alfredo Zamudio says.
NRC took the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kristin Halvorsen, to the Dili National Hospital, where about 400 IDP families are living in very poor sanitary conditions. This is seriously affecting the normal functioning of the most important medical facility in one of the poorest countries in the world. Children are dying of diseases and infections, which in other countries are easily cured and attended.
Mrs Halvorsen walked through the most affected area of the camp, meeting displaced children and women. She was encouraged by the IDP representative, to intervene on their behalf and ask the Timorese government to solve their situation.
Thereafter, Mrs Halvorsen visited a transitional site, built by NRC and funded by the Norwegian government. Here, 156 families are living in more human conditions. So far, NRC has built 432 transitional houses in East Timor since November last year.
According to NRC, the new government of East Timor has decided that transitional shelters are not needed. The government has recently approved a new policy, based on compensation in cash. The compensation is meant to be paid out according to the level of damage of the houses which were destroyed or damaged during the violence of last year, when almost 6 000 houses were destroyed or burnt.
"NRC is worried that without addressing the dialogue and land issues, IDPs will be left to do the dialogue themselves with those communities who very violently evicted them last year. That is a process which can take a very long time, while the makeshift camps are still in place also inside the Dili National Hospital," says Zamudio.
NRC has been active in East Timor since 2006, providing protection and humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons.
ENDS
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