[TimorLesteStudies] New ICG Report: Timor Leste's Displacement Crisis

bu.wilson at anu.edu.au bu.wilson at anu.edu.au
Mon Mar 31 21:05:16 EST 2008

INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP - NEW REPORT Timor-Leste's Displacement Crisis  Dili/Brussels, 31 March 2008: If Timor-Leste, which was rocked with violence in 2006 and whosepresident was seriously shot earlier this year, is to avoid conflict infuture, it needs to do more and faster to solve a festering problemthat has kept a tenth of its population displaced.Timor-Leste’s Displacement Crisis,*the latest report from the International Crisis Group, explores why100,000 people remain displaced, two years after political andsectarian violence drove them from their homes. It notes that some ofthe IDPs fear renewed violence; some have no home to return to, or areunable to reclaim their property because of inadequate propertyregistration and dispute-resolution mechanisms; others stay in campsfor the free rice. Like the recent rebel attack on President JoseRamos-Horta, the IDPs are a direct result of the 2006 crisis, and areminder that the problems which led to that crisis – includingproblems within the security forces and sectarian antagonism – have notbeen tackled.“The IDP camps in Dili are not just a humanitariandisaster zone, but also a visible reminder of the failure of thegovernment and international forces to create a secure environment”,says John Virgoe, Crisis Group’s South East Asia Project Director.“Resolving the displacement crisis is essential if Timor is to movebeyond the 2006 conflict”.The government finally has a plan – the nationalrecovery strategy – which contains many of the elements needed topromote IDP returns. But only the first pillar – rebuilding houses – isfunded in the 2008 budget. No money has been provided for the equallyimportant non-infrastructure elements, such as bolstering security,livelihood support, reconciliation and social safety nets. Theseelements are important to reduce the risk that social jealousy willobstruct the resettlement process and to promote reconciliation withincommunities.The strategy also excludes important issues. It doesnot address options for rebuilding those properties – the majority –that are the subject of ownership disputes. Timor badly needs afunctioning land and property regime. Its absence, coupled with thegeneral pressure on housing, lay behind many displacements, with peopletaking advantage of the 2006 chaos to chase neighbours out of theirhouses. Draft land laws exist, but successive governments haveconsidered them too controversial. They need to be passed, but,important as it is, land law reform will take time and alternativesolutions are needed for IDPs whose houses are the subject of ownershipdisputes.The recovery strategy also overlooks the need tobring arsonists and the authors of the 2006 violence to justice –important for deterring future displacements. None of those responsiblefor the violence are behind bars, and several remain in seniorleadership positions.“Arson and displacements have become almost routineevents in Timor-Leste,” says Robert Templer, Crisis Group’s AsiaProgram Director. “The cycle of impunity must be broken, and potentialarsonists need to feel that they may face punishment for their actions”.Contacts: Andrew Stroehlein (Brussels) +32 (0) 2 541 1635
Kimberly Abbott (Washington) +1 202 785 1601
To contact Crisis Group media please click here
*Read the full Crisis Group report on our website: http://www.crisisgroup.org  TheInternational Crisis Group (Crisis Group) is an independent,non-profit, non-governmental organisation covering some 60crisis-affected countries and territories across four continents,working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to preventand resolve deadly conflict. 
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