|East Timor||WEST TIMOR BISHOP PLEADS FOR EXTENSION OF UN PEACEKEEPING MANDATE|
Bishop Anton Pain Ratu of Atambua, West Timor, has pleaded for the United Nations mandate over East Timor to be extended to the entire island in order to prevent further massive slaughter of innocent civilians.
Catholic World News reports that Bishop Pain Ratu said that after the arrival of the UN peacekeeping forces, the militia and Indonesian army units would shift from East to West Timor, with growing retaliation against East Timorese refugees. The Timorese are facing an uncertain future of possibly forcible displacement of the population which could undermine the region's recent vote to seek independence from Indonesia.
The bishop said, "It has become essential for the international community to foresee the humanitarian problem of the whole island of Timor, not just East Timor alone."
He added, "While East Timor receives peacekeepers, the Indonesian government should allow the United Nations High Council of Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to come to West Timor to guarantee the humanitarian needs, security, and the free right of refugees to return to their place of origin if they so wish."
Indonesia's Immigration Minister, Lieutenant-General A. M. Hendropriyono, recently said he plans to resettle the refugees within Indonesia - two-thirds of them in West Timor and the rest on other eastern islands. The bishop said he feared the refugees would not be allowed to go back to their homes. He also warned that youths previously recruited into the militias who later could be targeted by the militias for revenge.
CWN 11:37am 20/9/99