Biskop Ximenes Belo kritiserer umenneskelige forhold i flyktningeleirene


Situation of Refugees Is "Desperate"

KÖNIGSTEIN, OCT 7, 1999 (ZENIT).- During his stay in Europe last week, Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo spoke out against the inhumane conditions that refugees are being forced to live in and denounced Indonesia's failure to adequately respond to their needs.

In a visit to the International Catholic charity "Aid to the Church in Need" in Königstein, Germany, last Thursday, Bishop Belo said there is a an acute shortage of everything -- accommodation, food, drinking water, clothing and medical supplies. There is a danger that the provisions of the refugee camps in East and West Timor will break down. All the hastily erected refugee camps of the local parishes are close to the limits of their capacity, he explained. Despite this, there is no sign of the flood of refugees abating. The bishop has appealed to Church aid agencies to provide rapid help. The situation is so desperate, he said, that there is a real danger of famine.

Ever since the escalation of the violence against the civilian population in early September, the Catholic Church has been caring for thousands of refugees in camps in its parishes in both the Eastern and Western parts of the island. Thousands have fled from East Timor to the western half of the island in order to escape death at the hands of the militia and sections of the Indonesian army, while others have been forcibly abducted there.

The situation of the refugees is "desperate" says Bishop Belo, since even here they are not safe from attack. Their fate is "altogether uncertain", since many of the camps have been hermetically sealed by the army.

Bishop Belo stressed that he was not a political spokesman for his country abroad but wished simply to draw attention to the plight of the people.

Nevertheless, he welcomed the fact that politicians in Western Europe have expressed their readiness to support East Timor. In his view there is a great danger from the nationalist opposition in Jakarta, which has gained a growing number of supporters in recent weeks and is seeking to present a combined front in opposition to the independence of East Timor from Indonesia. On November 1st the Indonesian parliament will decide on the independence, or otherwise, of East Timor.

Since 1994, "Aid to the Church in Need" has supported projects in East Timor for a total of $150,000, and since the beginning of September it has given $60,000 for the support of the refugees in West Timor, in the dioceses of Kapaong and Atambua. Further support is planned for the rebuilding of the vast number of churches and parish centers that have been destroyed.



av Webmaster publisert 13.10.1999, sist endret 13.10.1999 - 10:22