05 November 2008

East Timor Ministry of Social Solidarity assists 644 IDP families


MSS assists 644 IDP families from Canossa Balide camp to return home

Commencing today, as part of the government’s Hamutuk Hari’i Futuru national recovery strategy, 644 families from the Canossa Balide IDP camp will be assisted to return to their homes.

The Camp Manager of Canossa Balide camp, Sister Guilhermina, explained that thousands of people had fled to Canossa Balide during the 2006 crisis looking for a safe place to shelter. “Here at Canossa Balide we were only nine women to protect these thousands of people. We did not have any weapons, but we had Jesus Christ. We here at Canossa would like to thank God for looking after us, the government, and especially MSS for always attending to us, and the international and national NGOs who have provided us with assistance.”

The Minister of Social Security, Maria Domingas Alves, said that although she knew the residents of the camp had suffered greatly during the past two years and seven months, she hoped they had learnt a lot from the experience as she had during the years when she was displaced in the mountains during the fight for Timor-Leste’s independence. “I hope you have learnt how to live peacefully with one another, and will be able to teach others this valuable lesson and about justice.”

The Secretary of State for Social Assistance and Natural Disasters, Jacinto Rigoberto Alves, explained that according to the Hamutuk Hari’i Futuru National Recovery Strategy, only those whose houses were destroyed or damaged during the crisis, between 1 April 2006 and 31 October 2007, are entitled to receive a recovery package. “MSS has to give priority to people who physically live in the camp. The money available for recovery grants is limited. It is only available for people whose houses were damaged. We are not able to pay every single person in Dili, nor every youth, nor every new family. For families living in IDP camps who did not have a house prior to the crisis, or whose house was not damaged, the government has decided to provide reintegration packages of $200, to help them reintegrate in their communities of return. Where groups of youth were also living together in one tent, in order to facilitate their safe reintegration from the camp, MSS has also provided $200 per tent. However, MSS does not pay youth living outside the camp, or youth living with their family. The government department which looks after the rights of youth is the Secretary of State of Youth and Culture, not MSS.”

The Minister of Social Security, Maria Domingas Alves, thanked the Camp Manager, Madre Guilhermina, for helping to resolve the problems of the residents of the camp over the past two years. She appealed to the camp to come to MSS if they had problems reintegrating back into the community, and to cooperate with their Chefe Sucos and Chefe Aldeias. The Minister also thanked CARE and IOM for providing the Canossa Balide camp with humanitarian assistance, and Oxfam and UNICEF for their water and sanitation support to the camp over the past two years.

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