10 September 2008

Ministry of Social Solidarity: Launch of MSS Dialogue Teams

8 September 2008

Launch of MSS Dialogue Teams

On 8 September 2008, the Minister of Social Solidarity, Maria Domingas Fernandes Alves, officially launched the new MSS Dialogue Teams. The teams are a joint initiative of MSS and UNDP.

The Minister explained that in camp returns to date, there has been a high demand for a dialogue-based process that can facilitate the return of IDPs into their former communities. "The Dialogue Teams will be an integral part of the Hamutuk Hari'i Konfiansa pillar of the Hamutuk Hari'i Futuru National Recovery Strategy. They will work closely with the local authorities to promote dialogue to help alleviate the concerns of IDPs who are expected to move from the camps and those who are living in the receiving communities, as well as to avoid and mitigate potential conflicts. The dialogue teams will also work closely with partner agencies, such as IOM, CRS, CARE, Austcare, Belun, CJP and JRS. It is hoped the Dialogue Teams will encourage communities affected by conflict to talk to one another in order to resolve their differences amicably and set the stage for a process of national reconstruction and recovery."

The Secretary of State for Social Assistance and Natural Disasters, Jacinto Rigoberto Gomes, explained that the dialogue teams were selected through a competitive process in which there were more than 450 applicants. There are twenty members in the teams working in the five sub-districts of Dili (Cristo Rei, Dom Aleixo, Metinaro, Nain Feto no Vera Cruz). Each team has four members. A dialogue team has also been selected for Baucau, and later this month a team will be recruited for Ermera. Within the Ministry, there is also a central coordination team consisting of six staff.

The Country Director of UNDP, Akbar Usmani, said "UNDP is very proud to support the MSS in jointly implementing the US$718,548 Strengthening Institutional Structures and Mechanisms for Dialogue project through the creation of the dialogue teams. I wish to thank AusAID and NZAID for generously funding the dialogue project to the extent of US$498,000 from AusAID and US$220,000 from NZAID. The Ministry of Social Solidarity has proved itself capable of taking bold action to reduce the hardships and trauma of its citizens. We look forward to our continued cooperation and collaboration in the future and wish the dialogue teams every success in building better relations between returning IDPs and receiving communities."

The dialogue teams are an integral part of the Hamutuk Hari'i Futuru team and the Hamutuk Hari'i Futuru process of national recovery. Community dialogue is particularly crucial in supporting the process of reconstruction and rehabilitation of housing under 'Hamutuk Hari'i Uma' element of the national recovery strategy. In addition, this process will make a strong contribution to the 'Hamutuk Hari'i Estabilidade' element by opening channels of communication and providing a forum for communities and IDPs alike to discuss feelings of insecurity with a view to identifying what specifically is needed to create and maintain stability.

The Minister of Social Solidarity, Maria Domingas Fernandes Alves wished the MSS Dialogue Teams good luck with their important work. "I wish to let everyone know that these teams have been created to help you. If you are facing difficulty in being accepted back into your community or if you are a member of a community that is experiencing tension or difficulties because of returning IDPs please contact our staff and we will do all that we can to help you."

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