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    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid
    Country: Indonesia, Timor-Leste
    The Australia Council for Overseas Aid has welcomed efforts by Indonesians living in Australia to assist the humanitarian relief effort in East Timor.
    'Despite the complex political position in which they are placed, a large number of Indonesians resident in Australia are carrying out fundraising, awareness raising and direct assistance to help the thousands of victims of the East Timor crisis,' said Janet Hunt, Executive Director of ACFOA.

    'Early this week for example, a group of Indonesian doctors from Sydney and Canberra will pack their bags and leave for West Timor, where they will provide medical services for the thousands of displaced people. They are likely to have better access to the people in need due to their Indonesian nationality.'

    Indonesians resident in Australia are also stating their views on the situation through petitions and letters to governments, expressing their desire for peace and self-determination in East Timor.

    'As the peak body for Australian aid and development agencies, ACFOA welcomes and encourages the contribution of the Indonesian community to the emergency aid effort in East Timor, West Timor and other parts of Indonesia where East Timorese have fled', said Ms Hunt.

    'This support is particularly remarkable considering the phase of transition which Indonesia is experiencing, with many problems and issues demanding the attention of its citizens, including deadly conflicts in other areas such as Aceh, Ambon and Irian Jaya.'

    'This is a clear indication that the conflicts and human rights violations are not condoned by the entire Indonesian community. The atrocities are primarily driven by the Indonesian military and its agents. They are the ones who must be held accountable.' Ms. Hunt added.

    Contact: Janet Hunt 0411 868 174 (mb) 02 6281 9216 (w)


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    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid
    Country: Timor-Leste
    A UN administered ballot on August 30, 1999 resulted in overwhelming rejection by the East Timorese people of autonomy within Indonesia in favour of independence, by a margin of 78.5% to 21.5%.
    In retaliation, the Indonesian military and pro-Indonesia militias engulfed East Timor in violence which UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has described as 'shocking'. Hundreds are believed to have been killed. Some 75% of the population has been displaced either into the mountainous interior, where they have faced starvation, or to other parts of Indonesia and West Timor in particular where over 200,000 have been held in squalid refugee camps, many of them forcibly. There has also been widespread looting and destruction of property. At least 50% of homes in Dili and the western part of East Timor have been damaged or destroyed. Civil society has been destroyed and government no longer functions. UNAMET was obliged to deploy to Darwin and most UNAMET facilities were heavily damaged or destroyed. The ICRC and other humanitarian agencies suffered a similar fate.

    On September 15, the UN Security Council authorised a multi-national peace enforcement mission in East Timor (Interfet) to restore peace and security and to facilitate humanitarian relief efforts. 7000 troops led by Australia have now secured most of East Timor with the exception of the Oecusse enclave and parts of the border region were militias remain active, operating from bases in West Timor supported by elements of the Indonesian army. A major international relief effort is underway and internally displaced people are slowly returning to their communities.

    Some 400,000 thousand are still missing, presumed to be hiding in the interior, and despite agreements between the UNHCR and the Indonesian Government on the right of return, there are serious concerns about the security of refugees in militia controlled camps in West Timor and their freedom to go home.

    The bulk of Indonesia's forces have left East Timor. On October 20 the Indonesian Parliament resolved to formally ratify East Timor's separation from Indonesia allowing the UN Security Council to approve the establishment of a UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). UNTAET 's principal role will be to facilitate the transition of East Timor to independence. This is expected to take 2-3 years and will include the deployment of a 10,000 strong UN peacekeeping operation and UNTAET's overall responsibility for the administration of East Timor including the exercise of all legislative and executive authority, the administration of justice and the organising of elections.

    The East Timorese resistance leader, Xanana Gusmao, returned to East Timor on 22 October and will play a central role in the transition to independence.

    An international inquiry established by the UN Commission on Human Rights has begun compiling information on possible violations of human rights and breaches of international humanitarian law in East Timor since January 1999 and will complete its report to Kofi Annan by 31 December.

    Even before its current ravaging, East Timor was one of the poorest parts of Asia with 90% of its population living in rural areas dependent on basic agriculture and an economy heavily dependent on fiscal transfers from Jakarta. Indonesia's devastation of the territory and withdrawal of resources have left a legacy of bitterness, trauma and acute impoverishment which will take generations to overcome and will require the sustained assistance and goodwill of the international community over many years.

    KEY ISSUES FOR INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION

    1. UN FUNDING. It is critical that the international community gives strong and sustained political support to the UN as it facilitates the next stage of East Timor's transition to independence. Governments must also contribute generously and urgently to the UN Trust Fund established to cover, inter alia, the cost of the rehabilitation of essential physical and human infrastructure in East Timor, and the costs of UNTAET and peacekeeping. Lack of support at this critical juncture will undermine both East Timor's already difficult prospects of recovery and threaten regional stability.

    2. REFUGEES. International pressure is required to enable all the 300,000 East Timorese currently displaced in West Timor and other parts of Indonesia to return home if that is their wish. In West Timor, Indonesia must be pressed to disarm the militias who are controlling many of the refugee camps, restricting access by humanitarian agencies and blocking road access to East Timor across the border.

    3. HUMAN RIGHTS INQUIRY. The wave of terror unleashed in East Timor was state-sponsored. UN member states should give full support to the establishment of the international commission of inquiry into human rights violations in East Timor, including the provision of intelligence, and should support the establishment of an ad hoc Tribunal for East Timor by the UN Security Council. These initiatives will contribute significantly to the ending of the culture of military impunity in Indonesia.

    4. CNRT. Though international assistance of all forms is essential, East Timor's development should be determined by the wishes of the East Timorese people, not external donors and policy makers, particularly as expressed through East Timorese NGOs and the National Council of East Timorese Resistance (CNRT), headed by Xanana Gusmao.

    5. CAPACITY AND PEACE BUILDING. The focus on rebuilding devastated physical infrastructure should not detract from the fundamental need to build human and institutional capacity. Institutional and human capacity in East Timor has always been weak due to the years of conflict and has been depleted by the recent violence. Particularly attention must be given to the building of robust NGOs within a strong civil society and peace and reconciliation activities to heal the deep traumas and divisions of the last 25 years.

    6. AID COORDINATION. A coordinated approach is necessary to help the East Timorese to rebuild and develop their devastated homeland. Aid efficiency and sustainable development will be impeded if donors- NGOs, governments, private sector and multilateral bodies - act independently. Coordination must also be inclusive of East Timorese organisations at all stages.

    7. INDONESIA. International concern for East Timor must not be permitted to deflect support, aid or resources from Indonesia as it makes its own transition to democracy in difficult political and economic circumstances. Democratic control of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) is indeed essential to the long-term stability of East Timor.

    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid. Email: acfoahr@acfoa.asn.au


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    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid
    Country: Timor-Leste
    Executive Director of the Australian Council for Overseas Aid, Ms Janet Hunt, says she understands Xanana Gusmao's frustration with the huge international aid operation in East Timor.
    Ms Hunt said, "The CNRT have not been given the support they need. They were not allocated decent office space in Dili by the UN, nor do they have transport and communications equipment adequate to the tasks they face. This is a matter for governments and the UN to address. If the international community is serious about consulting with Timorese leaders as the reconstruction effort goes forward, they have to give them the means to operate."

    Ms Hunt said, "Non-government aid organisations were on the ground and responding to the crisis in East Timor ahead of CNRT leaders, who had been forced to flee in all directions, had been able to regroup and return safely to their own country. Now they all have to learn to work with one another, respecting the views of the East Timorese."

    "ACFOA has seconded a staff member to the UN who is helping East Timorese NGOs re-establish, and building relationships between the Timorese NGOs and the international organisations now in East Timor,"she said. "This is a priority for us, and we know the CNRT supports our efforts to do this."

    "ACFOA has been liaising closely with the CNRT and is urging international agencies to work in co-operation with them. During the Darwin preparations, ACFOA facilitated meetings between Australian humanitarian organisations and CNRT and we met in Melbourne with Xanana Gusmao. We have also prepared a detailed backgrounder on the CNRT which has been circulated widely."

    "The CNRT has appointed an NGO liaison person, but he has been extremely busy and travelling internationally. Now he has returned to Dili we hope any problems can be quickly resolved. He is extremely welcome to attend the daily co-ordination meetings of the humanitarian community."

    "NGOs are working against time to meet peoples' needs before the rains come, so the situation is clearly a difficult one for everyone. Everyone is living and working in exceptionally difficult conditions. Problems are inevitable - the issue is how quickly and well they are addressed. Australian NGOs will certainly heed advice and value feedback from the CNRT in relation to any problems they see in how the aid effort is going."

    Ms Hunt said, all concerned need to redouble their efforts to work in close co-operation with the CNRT, but the CNRT also had to realise that as a political organisation, albeit a wide coalition and one with enormous moral authority arising from the vote for independence, it is not desirable to deliver aid directly through it.

    Contact: Janet Hunt, Executive Director (02) 6281 9216 or (m) 0411 868 174

    The Australian Council for Overseas Aid is the coordinating body for some 90 Australian non-government aid and development organisations
    PH: 02 6285 1816 FAX: 02 6285 1720
    EMAIL: acfoa@acfoa.asn.au
    WEBSITE: http://www.acfoa.asn.au
    PRIVATE BAG 3 DEAKIN ACT 2600 ~ 14 NAPIER CLOSE DEAKIN ACT


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    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid
    Country: Indonesia, Timor-Leste
    The Australian Council for Overseas Aid is the coordinating body for some 90 Australian non-government aid and development organisations
    Australian aid organisations are calling on the Australian Government to make a new effort to free East Timorese refugees trapped in West Timor by militia groups and to have armed militia groups outlawed by the new Indonesian Government.

    In a report released today, 'Let Them Go: East Timorese Refugees in West Timor', the Australian Council for Overseas Aid expresses its deep concern that at least 200,000 refugees continue to be forcibly restrained from returning home and are enduring systematic and serious violations of human rights at the hands of Indonesian military-backed militias.

    The report details allegations of abuse including political killings, intimidation, kidnappings, forced prostitution and violations of children's rights.

    'The refugees in West Timor now constitute the highest risk group of all East Timorese', states the report.

    'Indonesian military backed militias are the principal obstacle to repatriation', said the Australian Council for Overseas Aid's Executive Director, Janet Hunt. 'It is up to the new Wahid Government to outlaw these groups and ban their activities, which are clearly contrary to Indonesian and international law'.

    The report recommends that the Australian Foreign Minister, Mr Downer, should urgently raise these concerns with the Indonesian Government and propose that Indonesia negotiate a treaty of friendship and cooperation with East Timor to address border management and outlaw militia activity.

    'There should be closure on the East Timor conflict by the Indonesian side. The operation of contra-style militia bases in West Timor will destabilise East Timor and inflame relations between East Timor and Indonesia'.

    The report calls for human rights protection agencies to be established in West Timor. 'But the best way to protect their human rights is for them to return to East Timor which is now secure and free of violence' said Ms Hunt.

    Copies of the Report are available from Debbie Venugopal, ph: (02) 6285 1816 or alternatively it is available from ACOFA's website: www.acfoa.asn.au by following the East Timor Links.

    Further information and comment:
    Janet Hunt
    02 6281 9216 (w)
    0411 868 174 (mb) or

    Pat Walsh
    409 997 030 (mb)

    PH: 02 6285 1816 FAX: 02 6285 1720
    EMAIL: acfoa@acfoa.asn.au

    Full Report (pdf.format)

    * Get Adobe Acrobat Viewer (free)


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    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid
    Country: Timor-Leste
    Two of the country's major peak bodies, the Australian Council for Overseas Aid and the Australian Council of Social Service, united on Tuesday to welcome the government's announcement of a levy to pay for Australia's peace keeping effort in East Timor.
    "In addition to supporting the equitable design of the levy, ACOSS particularly welcomes the Prime Minister's statement that it would not be fair to solve national budgetary problems by further cutting social expenditure," said Mr Micheal Raper, President of ACOSS.

    "We trust that the May 2000 Federal budget will carry through on this important value in all its measures," he added.

    "Australians have already shown their support for the people of East Timor by donating over $12 million in cash and kind to Australian non-government organisations involved provided essential emergency relief and development aid to the newly independent country," said acting ACFOA Executive Director, Mr Jim Redden.

    "We hope that they will support the one-off levy as the most fair and equitable way of paying for the Australian army's humanitarian mission in East Timor," he said.

    "We also hope that in addition to preventing cuts to social services, the levy allows for much needed increases to the Australian aid budget, which last year declined to its lowest point ever."

    For information and comment contact:
    ACOSS: Ms Betty Hounslow Tel: 02-93104844 (ah) 0419 626 155
    ACFOA: Mr Jim Redden or Mr Andrew Nette on 02 6285 1816 (ah) 0414 257 446


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    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid
    Country: India, Montenegro, Serbia, Timor-Leste, Viet Nam
    Donations from the Australian public to non-government organisations (NGOs) involved in overseas aid and development increased by 20 per cent over 1999, according to the results of an annual statistical survey conducted by the Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACFOA).
    "The increase exposes as a myth claims the Australian public are suffering from so-called compassion fatigue," said ACFOA Executive Director, Ms Janet Hunt. "Instead, these figures reveal the generosity of spirit which we have always known has existed within the Australian community towards those in less fortunate circumstances overseas."

    "This generosity continues to be in stark contrast to that of our current Government, which in the last budget allowed foreign aid to shrink to its lowest level ever as a percentage of GNP."

    While the Australian Government was forced to increase its actual aid expenditure above the 1999-2000 budgeted level, mainly to deal with East Timor and Kosovo, the Government has given no clear commitments about what will happen in the future."

    "In a few months time, the Government will bring down the first budget of the new century," said Ms Hunt. "We would urge the Government to use this as a chance to further increase Australia's aid budget."

    "Not only is this economically achievable given the strength of our economy, but the kindness of ordinary Australians demonstrates there would be significant support for it."

    The Australian public donated over $259 million in 1999, compared to $216 million in 1998, an increase of just over 20 per cent.

    The period covering the increase includes the refugee crisis in the Balkans, appeals relating to the devastating cyclone which hit Orissa, India and the severe flooding in central and south Vietnam, and some but not all of the funds given by the public for the reconstruction of East Timor.

    "As of February 2000, a total of almost $12 million had so far been given by the public to Australian NGOs involved in the reconstruction of East Timor, and donations are still coming in," Ms Hunt said.

    "This does not even count the considerable number of direct initiatives to assist East Timor being undertaken by individuals and the community," she said.


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    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid
    Country: Indonesia, Timor-Leste
    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


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    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid
    Country: Timor-Leste
    The Australian Council for Overseas Aid has welcomed the Government's four-year $150m commitment to East Timor's reconstruction and development, but says the rest of the world has been neglected.
    "This new commitment to East Timor comes in an aid budget which remains at the lowest ever level - 0.25% GNP ($1599.3m). Last year's crises in Kosovo, East Timor, Mozambique and elsewhere pushed the actual expenditure on development assistance to $1651.1m, or 0.27% GNP.

    "We have given the well-off big tax cuts, and foregone the Timor levy, but plan to give less aid in the coming year than we spent in 1999-2000. It is lack of political will like this which is worsening the gap between the rich and the poor worldwide. Can we really not afford to do more?"

    "Not only is actual expenditure expected to be lower in 2000-2001, the dollar increase of $100m on last year's budget does not match the growth in our economy, so against the internationally-recognised measure for aid - the percentage of GNP provided - we remain a very ungenerous nation.

    "This is not in line with community sentiment. People don't want a world which is so polarised. In 1999 the community raised 20% more funds for international assistance than in the previous year - a total of $260m."

    Australia's contribution to the $800m reconstruction costs requested at the Tokyo Donors' conference in December last year will make Australia one of the larger donors to East Timor.

    To date only 12% of the funds promised at the December 1999 Tokyo East Timor Donor's Conference have actually been received by the World Bank for its major East Timor Trust Fund.

    "Far more funds are being spent on peacekeeping than on helping the Timorese people to rebuild their shattered country", says Executive Director, Janet Hunt.

    Contacts: Canberra: Janet Hunt (02) 6281 9216 or (m) 0411 868 174 or
    Perth: Sir Ronald Wilson, President, ACFOA, (08) 9364 958


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    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid
    Country: Timor-Leste
    The festive season is upon us and many Australians will give to those less fortunate, both at home and overseas. Our near neighbours, the East Timorese will be high on many lists.
    Aid agencies are asking that the generous Australian spirit of giving to East Timor is founded on lasting gifts.

    Aid agencies working in East Timor say that the most useful gifts are:

    • Donations of money for water, health, agriculture and other programs that meet basic needs
    • School supplies such as stationery and notebooks
    • Sports equipment such as bats and balls
    • Building block toys like Duplo and Lego.
    "The gifts will meet the real needs of East Timorese" says Rhonda Chapman, Director of Membership Services for the Australian Council for Overseas Aid. "The Australian public has been very generous and aid agencies want to ensure that this generosity translates into maximum long term benefit".

    Children in East Timor do not have a history of playing with soft toys and aid agencies request that no soft toys or teddy bears be given as they pose a hygiene risk given the climate and living conditions in East Timor and they are not culturally appropriate.

    "Organisations planning on conducting Christmas appeals must also keep in mind the cost of transportation to East Timor and the fact that no more containers will arrive before Christmas" says Ms Chapman.

    Australian aid agencies have so far distributed more than $20 million in donations and gifts in kind from the Australian public.

    The following agencies are conducting Christmas Appeals to assist the people of East Timor and are signatories to the ACFOA Code of Conduct which requires high standards of public accountability:

    Aust. Volunteers International 1800 331 292
    Australian Foundation for the Peoples of Asia and the Pacific 02 9906 3792
    Australian Red Cross 1800 811 700
    Caritas Australia 1800 024 413
    Community Aid Abroad 1800 034 034
    Marist Mission Centre 02 9816 3187
    World Vision Australian 13 32 40

    For further comment: Rhonda Chapman 02 6281 9221
    Membership Services Director 0402 318 703


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    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid
    Country: Timor-Leste
    Notice of Australian Council for Overseas Aid organised activities
    From June 14-15 2001, Canberra will host the international donor meeting on East Timor. The third such gathering since the territory's independence ballot in 1999, this meeting takes place in the lead-up to national elections in East Timor, scheduled for August.

    On June 13, ACFOA will also be hosting a number of activities in the lead-up to the donor meeting.

    The HON LAURIE BRERETON, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, will launch the first ever guide to East Timor's political parties. 10am: Parliament, House Committee Room 1R3. Mr Brereton will also talk about Labor's policy on East Timor. A guest speaker will be Mr Klaus Roland, World Bank Director, East Asia and the Pacific. Copies of the report, East Timor's Political Parties and Groupings, researched and written by ACFOA, will be available at the launch.

    PRESS CONFERENCE: East Timorese NGOs on the elections and independence 2pm: Australian Council for Overseas Aid, 14 Napier Close, Deakin. The Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACFOA) is hosting three senior East Timorese non-government organisation representatives who will be in Canberra to attend the donor meeting.

    Speakers: Mr Arsenio Bano, Director East Timor NGO Forum Mr Aderito Soares, Coordinator, East Timor Jurists Association Ms Aziza Magno, East Timor Women's Network

    The East Timorese will discuss concerns over the openness and pluralism of whichever new East Timorese Government emerges from the August vote. They will call on donors to help ensure that the process of building democracy in East Timor goes beyond the first election. They will also speak on the need for a tribunal to prosecute perpetrators of serious human rights abuses.

    For more information or to arrange an interview contact: Jim Redden 0414 257 446 Andrew Nette 0438 026277


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    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid
    Country: Indonesia, Timor-Leste
    Australian aid agencies on Thursday welcomed the Australian Labor Party's commitment to adopt a comprehensive plan for foreign policy and development cooperation, in particular its focus on human rights and engagement with Asia.
    "The Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACFOA) welcomes Labor's intention to make the promotion of universal human rights as a 'core foreign policy objective' if they win office on November 10," said Ms Gaye Hart, ACFOA President.

    "The announcement that Labor will appoint an Ambassador for Human Rights, establish a Regional Centre for Human Rights Dialogue and Conflict Resolution, ratify key human rights treaties, and continue the present's government's support for an international criminal court, are all positive steps towards this end."

    "ACFOA believes that while Australia has done much in the area of human rights, we can and should do more," continued Ms Hart. "In addition to increasing our profile on human rights issues, initiatives such as these also send a signal to our neighbours in the region reinforcing Australia's role as an agent for peace and human security."

    Other highlights of the Labor's foreign policy, launched by Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Laurie Brereton in Sydney on Wednesday, include:

    • Humanitarian assistance initiatives aimed at Indonesia, East Timor and the Middle East
    • A major expansion of micro credit programs, focused on the South Pacific and East Timor
    • Further support for international efforts to relieve the debt burden of the world's poorest nations
    • The ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change
    "ACFOA also supports the Australian Labor Party's intention, stated in its policy, to increase the role Australian and international non-government organisations play in Australia's overseas aid program," said M Hart. "If elected we look forward to implementation of these policies."

    For further information contact:

    Ms Gaye Hart, ACFOA President: 0419 763950

    Andrew Nette, ACFOA Policy Officer 0438 026277


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    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid
    Country: Afghanistan, Indonesia, occupied Palestinian territory, Timor-Leste
    Extracted from the ACFOA's submission to the budget 2002 -2003: Reducing Poverty, Creating Human Security :
    The Challenge for Australia's Overseas Development Assistance
    5.2 I ndonesia

    5.2.1 Aid

    ACFOA supports the maintenance of a strong aid program to Indonesia, with the involvement of NGOs from both countries, as part of the Australian Government's efforts to repair and strengthen relations with Indonesia and increase links between our two countries. The design of a new AusAID Indonesia Country Strategy for 2004/6 provides an excellent opportunity to review the Australian Government's aid program to Indonesia and respond to key issues, such as the ongoing economic crisis and the persistent high levels of poverty, the need to protect human rights, increasing conflict and the challenges arising from the decentralisation process.

    Indonesia will continue to need humanitarian assistance to deal with natural disasters and human-made emergencies, especially outbreaks of communal conflict and civil strife. A priority needs to be strategies to deal with IDPs. The Indonesian Government has no clear policy towards displaced people, preferring to leave the problem to under-resourced district governments to deal with. AusAID should consider reallocating a greater percentage of resources to increase Humanitarian Relief to Indonesia.

    Australia's aid program to Indonesia has traditionally concentrated on Eastern Indonesia (NTT, NTB, South and Central Sulawesi and Papua). While there are clear historical reasons for this, ACFOA believes that the 2004/6 Indonesia Country Strategy provides the opportunity to revisit the geographical focus of the Australian aid program, in consultation with the Indonesian Government.

    As the debate on regional autonomy develops, it will be even more essential to vary approaches in different areas. Particular emphasis needs to be placed on Papua under the new Special Autonomy arrangement, which will become effective in 2002. This law grants Papuans a large portion of revenue: 80% from forestry and fishing and 70% from oil and gas, and provides the provincial government with control over all aspects of Papuan government (such as health and education), except for foreign affairs and security.

    The dramatic increase in regional revenue is likely to result in Papua having one of the highest provincial incomes, but with very poorly trained local officials and poor infrastructure for health and education. The potential for problems resulting from this situation is great. Increased support would not only assist in the development of Papua, but also could also play a significant role in reducing long-running tensions and conflict in the province.

    Another key focus area should be the province of NTT that has had to bear the largest burden of people displacement problems resulting from the East Timor crisis. It is continuing to host tens of thousands of East Timorese refugees until a resettlement or repatriation solution is found. NTT is the poorest province in Indonesia and continues to face a volatile political climate with the presence of militias from East Timor and tense relations between Christian and Muslim communities.

    ECHO, the European Community's main humanitarian donor, has plans to soon pull out of Indonesia, and the potential strains on funding from other donors as a result of the reconstruction needs of Afghanistan, in addition to the huge development challenges facing Indonesia, present a strong case for the Australian Government to increase real funding to Indonesia. ACFOA therefore recommends an increase in funding to Indonesia of $10m in 2002/3.

    Finally ACFOA believes it is critical that AusAID examine how the wider Australia-Indonesia relationship could impact on the achievement of the strategic objectives of the aid program. If theaid program is to have significant impact on poverty, it must give consideration to influencing other aspects of Australian Government policy that impact on development and poverty reduction in Indonesia, including foreign affairs, immigration, defence, human rights and trade.

    ACFOA believes that the Australian government's present refugee policy of supporting the detention of asylum seekers in the Pacific and taking a heavy-handed approach to Indonesia over asylum seekers leaving their shores for Australia doesn't acknowledge the huge strains and pressures presently placed on Indonesia as a result of over 1.25 million IDPs in their country.

    In this respect, the meeting in February 2002 in Bali to discuss the issue of asylum seekers, co-hosted by Australia, is a positive move. Reaching agreement on a collaborative approach to monitoring and processing asylum seekers in an orderly and humane way gives a clear signal that Australia wishes to tackle regional issues in a collaborative and comprehensive manner.

    A comprehensive approach to tackling the issue, bearing in mind the aid program's mandate of reducing poverty, would see Australia consider matters such as revision of the terms involved in the Australian Fishing Zone, assistance at district level for developing better policies to keep large-scale foreign fishers from Indonesian waters and more appropriate methods of dealing with infringement of Australian-Indonesian fishing agreements. Such initiatives, together with assistance for poor fisherfolk, might discourage fisherfolks' involvement with people smuggling.

    As is the case with the Pacific, ACFOA would stress that initiatives aimed at assisting Indonesia to directly tackle people smuggling are best dealt with outside the aid program and should not detract from the program's stated anti-poverty focus.

    Recommendation 10

    ACFOA recommends that the Australian Government:

    10.1 Increase funding to Indonesia by $10million in 2002/3.

    10.2 Make an increased funding allocation for Humanitarian Relief for Indonesia.

    10.3 In the context of the 2004/6 Indonesia Country Strategy, reconsider the geographical focus of Australia's aid program to Indonesia, in consultation with the Indonesian Government. At the very least, consideration should be given to supporting a small number of high profile projects in areas of Western Indonesia that are predominantly Muslim.

    10.4 Place greater emphasis on Papua as it develops Special Autonomy, and NTT to deal with the burden resulting from the East Timor crisis.

    The World Bank warned in a report in November that high debt service payments limited the Indonesian Government's ability to maintain essential spending on development and poverty reduction. It said concerns about the sustainability of government debt weakened investor confidence in Indonesia and made the country "highly vulnerable to shocks and leaving little margin for error in economic management."

    The Indonesian Government will meet with the Paris Club of creditor nations in early 2002 to seek rescheduling of US$2.7 billion in sovereign debt, both principle and interest. This is the first time that Indonesia has requested rescheduling of interest. In 2001, the Paris Club granted Indonesia a rescheduling facility of some US$5.8 billion, but only for debt principle.

    ACFOA congratulates the Australian Government on the efforts it is currently making to assist Indonesia manage its debt burden, including the provision of funds under the aid program to assist Indonesia with the task of managing domestic debt and the announcement by the Foreign Minister in August of a study into the debt issue to be carried out by AusAID in cooperation with the World Bank.

    ACFOA would, however, encourage the Australian Government to have a greater involvement in advocating for a resolution to Indonesia's debt problem. ACFOA recognises that it is important that any movement on the part of donors or multilateral financial institutions on Indonesia's debt should be consistent with a more concerted effort by the Indonesian government on fighting corruption.

    Recommendation 11

    ACFOA recommends that the Australian Government to support:

    11.1 A rescheduling of Indonesia's debt at the upcoming Paris Club meeting, including a rescheduling on more favourable terms than is currently the case.

    11.2 The organisation of a broad international consultation involving all stakeholders on the creditor's as well as the debtor's side to bring about a fair and adequate assessment of the current debt situation in Indonesia, and to agree on a lasting solution to relieve the debt burden on Indonesia.

    11.3 Arrangements with the Indonesian Government to ensure that funds freed by debt cancellation are used for poverty reduction programs.

    Funding Implication

    An increase for Indonesia in 2002/3 of $10m.

    5.3 Other Geographic Priorities

    5.3.1 East Timor

    ACFOA commends the Government for its peace building and development commitment to the people of East Timor. ACFOA supports the maintenance of current levels of real funding to East Timor given the crucial development challenges it faces as it moves toward full independence

    5.3.2 The Philippines, the Mekong, Burma, China

    ACFOA supports the maintenance of current funding in real terms to the Philippines, the Mekong, Burma and China.

    5.3.3 Middle East

    ACFOA congratulates the Australian Government's commitment to the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) over recent years, including additional funding commitments to the MEPP in 2000-2001, and in particular, support for emergency medical assistance to the Palestinian communities. In mid-2001, at the end of a $16 million three-year program, the AusAID Programming Mission to the Middle East (July 2001) recommended that its program of assistance to the Palestinians continue at that current level.

    However, since 29 September 2000 conflict has dramatically increased in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and hopes on both sides for a continuation or resumption of the peace process have diminished. Approximately 1,000 adults and children have been killed in the conflict and 26,000 people injured. The impacts of this conflict on the labour market and on agricultural production in the Occupied Territories have resulted in over two million Palestinians now living in poverty, with limited access to health, education and social services.

    Given current deteriorating circumstances, ACFOA is concerned that the $4.5m over three years allocated to five Australian NGOs for projects in the Middle East Capacity Building NGO Program is far from adequate. ACFOA seeks a further allocation in 2002-2003 of $2m for Australian NGO programs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for programs focused on poverty reduction, health, education, social services and support for local peace initiatives. ACFOA also urges an additional commitment for Australian NGO projects with the refugee communities in Lebanon, within a designated humanitarian funding round of $1.5m per year.

    ACFOA supports maintaining Australian commitments of $3.8m per year to UNRWA, though UNRWA is less and less able to meet the increasingly urgent basic needs of the 3.73 million registered refugees in the Occupied Territories and neighboring countries.

    5.3.4 Afghanistan

    ACFOA commends the Australian Government for the allocation of $17m in reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan, announced at the international donors meeting in January 2002. This brings total Australian assistance to South West Asia since September 2001 to $40.3m. However much more needs to be done.

    Just as it was a member of the international coalition against terrorism, Australia should be a part of the humanitarian coalition to rebuild Afghanistan not just from the recent conflict but also from almost 22 years of continuous war. Donors, including the United Nations, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank estimate that rebuilding Afghanistan will require approximately US$15 billion over the next 10 years.

    The priority though until July 2002 will be the maintenance of a large-scale humanitarian effort in support of 5-6 million Afghans assessed to be in acute emergency. In the longer term, Afghanistan will need assistance with developing a functioning administration, as well as with transport, food security, education and health. De-mining efforts are also fundamental to restoring security and safety, particularly for returning Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees, and for the delivery of aid.

    In addition to humanitarian concerns, the provision of generous assistance to Afghanistan will help to address the source of the problem regarding illegal people flows to Australia, a significant proportion of whom are from Afghanistan.

    5.3.5 Africa and South Asia

    Enormous poverty and development challenges still face Africa and South Asia. However, given ACFOA is seeking specific funding in basic social services and for Indonesia and the Middle East, it is requested that for the 2002-03 budget, funding be maintained at real levels. Further recommendations relating to Africa are contained in section 4.1.2 on HIV/AIDS.

    Summary Of Recommendations For Other Geographic Prioirites

    Recommendation 12

    That the 2002/3 Budget adopt the following country-specific priorities for the distribution of Australian aid:

    12.1 The maintenance of current real levels of funding to East Timor and the maintenance of current real levels of funding to the Philippines, Mekong, Burma and China.

    12.2 An increase in aid to Indonesia of $10 million to assist Indonesia in dealing with the ongoing impacts of the regional economic crisis and to assist with further democratisation and reform.

    12.3 An increase in the Australian Government's current commitment to the Middle-East of $5.3m per annum to a total of $8.8m in the 2002/3 financial year. This includes a further allocation of $2 million for NGO programs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and an additional commitment of $1.5m for NGO projects focused on Palestinian refugees in Lebanon in the areas of health care and promotion, and support for specific disadvantaged communities.

    12.4 Maintain real levels of funding to Africa and South Asia.

    Funding Implications

    An increase in aid to Indonesia of $10m.

    An increase in funds to the Middle East of $3.5m.


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    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid
    Country: Timor-Leste

    Australian non-governmental aid agencies (NGOs) have launched urgent appeals to deal with the humanitarian crisis in East Timor.
    The most recent reports say escalating Indonesian military-backed violence in the wake of the territory's historic vote for independence has virtually destroyed the East Timorese capital Dili, and created at least 40,000 refugees.

    Tax deductible cash donations are being accepted by many NGOs including:

    Apheda (Union Aid Abroad) 1300 362 223 (9am-5pm)

    AFAP/Timor Aid 1800 007 308

    Austcare 1800 244 450

    Australian Baptist World Aid (02) 94511199

    Australian Red Cross 1800 811 700

    Australian Volunteers International (03) 9279 1788

    CARE Australia 1800 020 046

    Community Aid Abroad-Oxfam in Australia 1800 034 034

    Caritas Australia 1800 024 413

    National Council of Churches in Australia 1800 025 101

    Timor Aid (08) 8948 4458

    World Vision 13 32 40

    Contact: Janet Hunt on (02) 6285 1816 (mob) 0411 868 174


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    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid
    Country: Timor-Leste

    The Australian Council for Overseas Aid calls on all Australians who want to help East Timorese people to send money, not goods, to any of the following aid organisations.
    These organisations are standing ready to assist the people inside East Timor as soon as the security situation allows them to return. In the meantime, some are also assisting displaced people in West Timor.

    Executive Director, Janet Hunt, said " We urge people not to try to send goods at this time. When the moment to get back into East Timor comes, there will be urgent priorities of bulk food and medical supplies which aid organisations are getting into place now. Some is already in Darwin, or close by in Indonesia. Other goods - and even time spent dealing with well-meaning offers - will prevent us from responding as effectively as we can. When we do get back in, every hour will count if lives are to be saved."

    "We realise that people want to help. We just ask that they recognise that they do so in the way which will be best for the Timorese people. At a time like this aid organisations need to focus all our energies on the most effective methods."

    We urge the public to send cash now to any of the following organisations:

    Care Australia 1800 020 046

    Community Aid Abroad 1800 034 034

    Caritas Australia 1800 024 413

    APHEDA (Union Aid Abroad) 1300 362 223 (during business hours)

    National Council of Churches in Australia 1800 025 101

    World Vision Australia 13 32 40

    Austcare 1800 244 450

    Australian Red Cross 1800 811 700

    Australian Baptist World Aid (02) 94511199

    Australian Foundation for

    Asia and the Pacific (02) 9906 3792

    Timor Aid (08) 8948 4458

    AFAP/Timor Aid 1800 007 308

    Australian Volunteers International (03) 9279 1788

    Contact: Janet Hunt Ph (02) 6285 1816 (w); (02) 6281 0252 (h); 0411 868 174 (m)


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    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid
    Country: Indonesia, Timor-Leste

    Australian aid groups in Darwin are calling on the international community to give as much attention to East Timorese in West Timor as they are to East Timor.
    The Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACFOA), the umbrella organisation for non-government development organisations, while welcoming food drops inside East Timor, says there are grave concerns about the plight of the 150,000 people who were forcibly removed from East Timor, or who fled to West Timor to escape the turmoil across the border.

    "Reports coming from West Timor say that conditions in the refugee camps are grim. Camps are overcrowded, shelter is basic, water supply and sanitation facilities are inadequate and food stocks are low. Acute respiratory tract infections and gastro-intestinal diseases are on the rise and there are fears of outbreaks of epidemics," says Executive Director, Janet Hunt.

    "Militias who had operated in East Timor are perpetuating terror in West Timor. Accounts from reliable sources say that militias are searching for independence supporters and have been seen taking men and boys from camps. They have disappeared, fate unknown.

    "Now the refugees are being asked to indicate to local authorities whether they wish to return to East Timor or become permanent transmigrants in West Timor. In this context, to indicate a wish to return would clearly place refugees at risk.

    "There is no safe access to West Timor for international aid workers who have been harrassed and threatened by militias. Local Indonesian government, church and non-government organisations are completely overwhelmed by the huge numbers of people in extreme need.

    "The militias are also terrorising local West Timorese residents. They roam the streets, pillage shops and market stores. Local NGOs and church groups hold grave concerns that serious violence may break out in West Timor.

    "The safe return of IDPs wishing to return to East Timor should happen as soon as East Timor is secure, and must be under international supervision."

    The aid organisations in Darwin speaking out on their concerns today are:

    CARE Australia 0417 276 832 0419 438 550

    Caritas Australia 0413 701 001

    Community Aid Abroad/Oxfam in Australia 0419 563 768 (08) 8941 8572

    Timor Aid/Australian Foundation for the Peoples of Asia and the Pacific (08) 8948 4458

    World Vision Australia 0413 701 019


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    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid
    Country: Indonesia, Timor-Leste

    1. Humanitarian Emergency
      Since the announcement of the ballot results in Dili on 4 September 1999, tens of thousands of East Timorese and non-East Timorese have left East Timor, mainly for West Timor but also to other islands. They have joined some 9000 refugees already in West Timor for many months. The majority of the new arrivals appear to have been forcibly deported from along the North coast at least in the sense that militias ordered them to leave their homes after the ballot because they intended to turn East Timor into a battlefield to contest the result of the ballot. Others have entered West Timor in the South, following the burning and chaos in Suai in early September.

      Local Church sources in West Timor estimate that the number of East Timorese refugees in West Timor and Flores, as of 21 September 1999, is 182,000. Additional refugees can be found on other Indonesian islands including Alor (2500), Bali (600), Java, Kalimantan, and Irian Jaya.

      In West Timor

      • Most are women, children and older men.
      • Most are living in plastic tents. Some are living in barracks. The luckier ones occupy public facilities such as school and church buildings, warehouses and bus terminals.
      • Sanitation is very poor due to lack of clean water.
      • There is food for two weeks.
      • Medicines are limited and there are few health workers. The most common diseases are malaria, diarrhoea, flu, colds, skin complaints.
      • Younger men have been forced to join the militia or take refuge in the interior.
      • Local infrastructure is over taxed and the Provincial Government does not have capacity to meet the sudden huge demand for basic services.
      • Militia intimidation has severely restricted international aid agencies from providing aid to camps, forcing them to rely on local churches and NGOs.
      • The refugees are a volatile mix of angry pro-integration groups and some pro-independence. The latter feel very afraid and threatened.
      • Some refugees have managed to exit West Timor for other parts of Indonesia, but militias and military are blocking access to flights and boats.
      • The Indonesian Minister for Transmigration, A.M. Hendropriyono, stated (20 September) that Indonesia would permanently resettle IDPs in West Timor (20,000 households), Maluku and Irian Jaya if they wanted to remain in Indonesia. Authorities have stated their readiness to upgrade infrastructure, build homes and allocate farmland to IDPs who wish to stay.
      2. Human Rights Violations

      Military and militias, openly carrying arms, have accompanied the refugees and are now increasingly evident in West Timor. Numbers will increase further as more militias and military retreat from East Timor to West Timor following the arrival of the UN multinational force. Family members of the military and police have also been brought to West Timor.

      • Militias are reported to behave arrogantly and roam unchecked, including taking goods from stores and shops. The Provincial Government is concerned that their behaviour could spark retaliation by the West Timorese community and lead to serious violence, or that the volatile situation could be exploited by other interests.
      • Evidence is mounting that the intimidation and brutality exercised by militia in East Timor is now being practised in West Timor against pro-independence supporters. Many accounts are circulating of the shooting and disappearance of pro-independence supporters, including during the sea journey to West Timor.
      • Adult males are being forced to support or fight with pro-integration forces intent on securing the western border region or waging guerilla war from West Timor against the Multinational Force. On 18 September, the Commander of the pro-integration forces, Eurico Guterres, publically stated his intention to attack the Multinational Forces and claim the 5 regions along the border with East Timor. Also on 18 September, pro-integration groups established a new organisation (FPB) to defend national unity.
      • The centre of the East Timorese enclave of Oecusse (in West Timor) was razed by militia groups on 19 September.
        Militias have harassed Church institutions providing refuge to IDPs and prepared lists of pro-independence supporters they seek. Pro-integration militias have also attacked international agencies, including UNHCR and OXFAM staff, and harassed journalists and Westerners.
      • Goods and merchandise looted in East Timor are being traded in West Timor markets or taken on to cities in Java.
      3. Recommendations
      • The UN Security Council must take urgent and appropriate action to uphold its stated commitment to East Timorese refugees. Security Council Resolution 1264 (1999) adopted on 15 September 1999, reaffirmed "the right of refugees and displaced persons to return in safety and security to their homes" and stressed "that it is the responsibility of the Indonesian authorities to take immediate and effective measures to ensure the safe return of refugees to East Timor".
      • The UN Multinational Force must establish a presence in the East Timorese enclave of Oecusse in West Timor to protect its residents from further militia violence and to provide a safe haven for East Timorese in West Timor.
      Indonesia must be pressed:
      • to honour the undertaking given 22 September to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mrs Sadako Ogata, to allow the UNHCR to provide full "security and access to all the people in need of assistance" in West Timor and other parts of Indonesia;
      • to allow local, national and international humanitarian and human rights organisations free and full access to address the needs of refugees;
      • to arrest those guilty of breaking the law and disarm the militias;
      • to allow the refugees the choice to return to East Timor. Such a choice will require, inter alia, access to all relevant information, guarantees of security whatever their choice, and an opportunity to discuss their situation with separated family members. These provisions must apply particularly to refugees offered transmigration.
      Contact: pwalsh@acfoa.asn.au

      Pat Walsh
      Australian Council for Overseas Aid


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    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid
    Country: Indonesia, Timor-Leste

    The Australia Council for Overseas Aid has welcomed efforts by Indonesians living in Australia to assist the humanitarian relief effort in East Timor.
    'Despite the complex political position in which they are placed, a large number of Indonesians resident in Australia are carrying out fundraising, awareness raising and direct assistance to help the thousands of victims of the East Timor crisis,' said Janet Hunt, Executive Director of ACFOA.

    'Early this week for example, a group of Indonesian doctors from Sydney and Canberra will pack their bags and leave for West Timor, where they will provide medical services for the thousands of displaced people. They are likely to have better access to the people in need due to their Indonesian nationality.'

    Indonesians resident in Australia are also stating their views on the situation through petitions and letters to governments, expressing their desire for peace and self-determination in East Timor.

    'As the peak body for Australian aid and development agencies, ACFOA welcomes and encourages the contribution of the Indonesian community to the emergency aid effort in East Timor, West Timor and other parts of Indonesia where East Timorese have fled', said Ms Hunt.

    'This support is particularly remarkable considering the phase of transition which Indonesia is experiencing, with many problems and issues demanding the attention of its citizens, including deadly conflicts in other areas such as Aceh, Ambon and Irian Jaya.'

    'This is a clear indication that the conflicts and human rights violations are not condoned by the entire Indonesian community. The atrocities are primarily driven by the Indonesian military and its agents. They are the ones who must be held accountable.' Ms. Hunt added.

    Contact: Janet Hunt 0411 868 174 (mb) 02 6281 9216 (w)


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    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid
    Country: Timor-Leste

    A UN administered ballot on August 30, 1999 resulted in overwhelming rejection by the East Timorese people of autonomy within Indonesia in favour of independence, by a margin of 78.5% to 21.5%.
    In retaliation, the Indonesian military and pro-Indonesia militias engulfed East Timor in violence which UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has described as 'shocking'. Hundreds are believed to have been killed. Some 75% of the population has been displaced either into the mountainous interior, where they have faced starvation, or to other parts of Indonesia and West Timor in particular where over 200,000 have been held in squalid refugee camps, many of them forcibly. There has also been widespread looting and destruction of property. At least 50% of homes in Dili and the western part of East Timor have been damaged or destroyed. Civil society has been destroyed and government no longer functions. UNAMET was obliged to deploy to Darwin and most UNAMET facilities were heavily damaged or destroyed. The ICRC and other humanitarian agencies suffered a similar fate.

    On September 15, the UN Security Council authorised a multi-national peace enforcement mission in East Timor (Interfet) to restore peace and security and to facilitate humanitarian relief efforts. 7000 troops led by Australia have now secured most of East Timor with the exception of the Oecusse enclave and parts of the border region were militias remain active, operating from bases in West Timor supported by elements of the Indonesian army. A major international relief effort is underway and internally displaced people are slowly returning to their communities.

    Some 400,000 thousand are still missing, presumed to be hiding in the interior, and despite agreements between the UNHCR and the Indonesian Government on the right of return, there are serious concerns about the security of refugees in militia controlled camps in West Timor and their freedom to go home.

    The bulk of Indonesia's forces have left East Timor. On October 20 the Indonesian Parliament resolved to formally ratify East Timor's separation from Indonesia allowing the UN Security Council to approve the establishment of a UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). UNTAET 's principal role will be to facilitate the transition of East Timor to independence. This is expected to take 2-3 years and will include the deployment of a 10,000 strong UN peacekeeping operation and UNTAET's overall responsibility for the administration of East Timor including the exercise of all legislative and executive authority, the administration of justice and the organising of elections.

    The East Timorese resistance leader, Xanana Gusmao, returned to East Timor on 22 October and will play a central role in the transition to independence.

    An international inquiry established by the UN Commission on Human Rights has begun compiling information on possible violations of human rights and breaches of international humanitarian law in East Timor since January 1999 and will complete its report to Kofi Annan by 31 December.

    Even before its current ravaging, East Timor was one of the poorest parts of Asia with 90% of its population living in rural areas dependent on basic agriculture and an economy heavily dependent on fiscal transfers from Jakarta. Indonesia's devastation of the territory and withdrawal of resources have left a legacy of bitterness, trauma and acute impoverishment which will take generations to overcome and will require the sustained assistance and goodwill of the international community over many years.

    KEY ISSUES FOR INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION

    1. UN FUNDING. It is critical that the international community gives strong and sustained political support to the UN as it facilitates the next stage of East Timor's transition to independence. Governments must also contribute generously and urgently to the UN Trust Fund established to cover, inter alia, the cost of the rehabilitation of essential physical and human infrastructure in East Timor, and the costs of UNTAET and peacekeeping. Lack of support at this critical juncture will undermine both East Timor's already difficult prospects of recovery and threaten regional stability.

    2. REFUGEES. International pressure is required to enable all the 300,000 East Timorese currently displaced in West Timor and other parts of Indonesia to return home if that is their wish. In West Timor, Indonesia must be pressed to disarm the militias who are controlling many of the refugee camps, restricting access by humanitarian agencies and blocking road access to East Timor across the border.

    3. HUMAN RIGHTS INQUIRY. The wave of terror unleashed in East Timor was state-sponsored. UN member states should give full support to the establishment of the international commission of inquiry into human rights violations in East Timor, including the provision of intelligence, and should support the establishment of an ad hoc Tribunal for East Timor by the UN Security Council. These initiatives will contribute significantly to the ending of the culture of military impunity in Indonesia.

    4. CNRT. Though international assistance of all forms is essential, East Timor's development should be determined by the wishes of the East Timorese people, not external donors and policy makers, particularly as expressed through East Timorese NGOs and the National Council of East Timorese Resistance (CNRT), headed by Xanana Gusmao.

    5. CAPACITY AND PEACE BUILDING. The focus on rebuilding devastated physical infrastructure should not detract from the fundamental need to build human and institutional capacity. Institutional and human capacity in East Timor has always been weak due to the years of conflict and has been depleted by the recent violence. Particularly attention must be given to the building of robust NGOs within a strong civil society and peace and reconciliation activities to heal the deep traumas and divisions of the last 25 years.

    6. AID COORDINATION. A coordinated approach is necessary to help the East Timorese to rebuild and develop their devastated homeland. Aid efficiency and sustainable development will be impeded if donors- NGOs, governments, private sector and multilateral bodies - act independently. Coordination must also be inclusive of East Timorese organisations at all stages.

    7. INDONESIA. International concern for East Timor must not be permitted to deflect support, aid or resources from Indonesia as it makes its own transition to democracy in difficult political and economic circumstances. Democratic control of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) is indeed essential to the long-term stability of East Timor.

    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid. Email: acfoahr@acfoa.asn.au


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    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid
    Country: Timor-Leste

    Executive Director of the Australian Council for Overseas Aid, Ms Janet Hunt, says she understands Xanana Gusmao's frustration with the huge international aid operation in East Timor.
    Ms Hunt said, "The CNRT have not been given the support they need. They were not allocated decent office space in Dili by the UN, nor do they have transport and communications equipment adequate to the tasks they face. This is a matter for governments and the UN to address. If the international community is serious about consulting with Timorese leaders as the reconstruction effort goes forward, they have to give them the means to operate."

    Ms Hunt said, "Non-government aid organisations were on the ground and responding to the crisis in East Timor ahead of CNRT leaders, who had been forced to flee in all directions, had been able to regroup and return safely to their own country. Now they all have to learn to work with one another, respecting the views of the East Timorese."

    "ACFOA has seconded a staff member to the UN who is helping East Timorese NGOs re-establish, and building relationships between the Timorese NGOs and the international organisations now in East Timor,"she said. "This is a priority for us, and we know the CNRT supports our efforts to do this."

    "ACFOA has been liaising closely with the CNRT and is urging international agencies to work in co-operation with them. During the Darwin preparations, ACFOA facilitated meetings between Australian humanitarian organisations and CNRT and we met in Melbourne with Xanana Gusmao. We have also prepared a detailed backgrounder on the CNRT which has been circulated widely."

    "The CNRT has appointed an NGO liaison person, but he has been extremely busy and travelling internationally. Now he has returned to Dili we hope any problems can be quickly resolved. He is extremely welcome to attend the daily co-ordination meetings of the humanitarian community."

    "NGOs are working against time to meet peoples' needs before the rains come, so the situation is clearly a difficult one for everyone. Everyone is living and working in exceptionally difficult conditions. Problems are inevitable - the issue is how quickly and well they are addressed. Australian NGOs will certainly heed advice and value feedback from the CNRT in relation to any problems they see in how the aid effort is going."

    Ms Hunt said, all concerned need to redouble their efforts to work in close co-operation with the CNRT, but the CNRT also had to realise that as a political organisation, albeit a wide coalition and one with enormous moral authority arising from the vote for independence, it is not desirable to deliver aid directly through it.

    Contact: Janet Hunt, Executive Director (02) 6281 9216 or (m) 0411 868 174

    The Australian Council for Overseas Aid is the coordinating body for some 90 Australian non-government aid and development organisations
    PH: 02 6285 1816 FAX: 02 6285 1720
    EMAIL: acfoa@acfoa.asn.au
    WEBSITE: http://www.acfoa.asn.au
    PRIVATE BAG 3 DEAKIN ACT 2600 ~ 14 NAPIER CLOSE DEAKIN ACT


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    Source: Australian Council for Overseas Aid
    Country: Indonesia, Timor-Leste

    The Australian Council for Overseas Aid is the coordinating body for some 90 Australian non-government aid and development organisations
    Australian aid organisations are calling on the Australian Government to make a new effort to free East Timorese refugees trapped in West Timor by militia groups and to have armed militia groups outlawed by the new Indonesian Government.

    In a report released today, 'Let Them Go: East Timorese Refugees in West Timor', the Australian Council for Overseas Aid expresses its deep concern that at least 200,000 refugees continue to be forcibly restrained from returning home and are enduring systematic and serious violations of human rights at the hands of Indonesian military-backed militias.

    The report details allegations of abuse including political killings, intimidation, kidnappings, forced prostitution and violations of children's rights.

    'The refugees in West Timor now constitute the highest risk group of all East Timorese', states the report.

    'Indonesian military backed militias are the principal obstacle to repatriation', said the Australian Council for Overseas Aid's Executive Director, Janet Hunt. 'It is up to the new Wahid Government to outlaw these groups and ban their activities, which are clearly contrary to Indonesian and international law'.

    The report recommends that the Australian Foreign Minister, Mr Downer, should urgently raise these concerns with the Indonesian Government and propose that Indonesia negotiate a treaty of friendship and cooperation with East Timor to address border management and outlaw militia activity.

    'There should be closure on the East Timor conflict by the Indonesian side. The operation of contra-style militia bases in West Timor will destabilise East Timor and inflame relations between East Timor and Indonesia'.

    The report calls for human rights protection agencies to be established in West Timor. 'But the best way to protect their human rights is for them to return to East Timor which is now secure and free of violence' said Ms Hunt.

    Copies of the Report are available from Debbie Venugopal, ph: (02) 6285 1816 or alternatively it is available from ACOFA's website: www.acfoa.asn.au by following the East Timor Links.

    Further information and comment:
    Janet Hunt
    02 6281 9216 (w)
    0411 868 174 (mb) or

    Pat Walsh
    409 997 030 (mb)

    PH: 02 6285 1816 FAX: 02 6285 1720
    EMAIL: acfoa@acfoa.asn.au

    Full Report (pdf.format)

    * Get Adobe Acrobat Viewer (free)


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