24 November 2008

East Timor Ministry of Social Solidarity Third Hamutuk Hari'i Retreat

24 November 2008

Third Hamutuk Hari’i Futuru Retreat: Working Together for Stability

On 21 November 2008, the Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao, opened the third Hamutuk Hari’i Futuru retreat entitled: 'Working Together for Stability'. The objective of the retreat was to consider how a whole of government approach could be used to strengthen community stability and ensure the sustainable return of internally displaced people.

The retreat was attended by members of government, development partners, humanitarian agencies and NGOs. The Prime Minister explained that he had convened the retreat because of the need for an all-of-Government approach. Long-term community stability requires concerted collaboration and coordination that goes beyond the mandate and capacity of any single Ministry or agency. The Prime Minister called upon his government colleagues and partners to review the existing National Priorities framework to take into account the need to enhance social cohesion. 'In their next scheduled round of meetings National Priority Working Groups should discuss how issues of community stability can best be integrated into the planning for the 2009 National Priorities.'

The Prime Minister said 'the return and reintegration of over 10,000 families to date is indeed a testament to the ability of the Government and its partners to address the immediate reintegration needs of people displaced by the crisis'. However, 'the return and resettlement of IDPs is indeed only a first step on a long road to the sustainable stabilisation of communities. Indeed, we must recognise that not all conflicts have been resolved. The challenges to sustainable return are a manifestation of the 2006 crisis in Timor-Leste and of the broader societal and political problems that led to it. The causes of the crisis were many and interact at the community level in complex ways. In order to ensure national recovery and ongoing community stability, it will therefore be necessary that the Government honestly assess and acknowledge the root causes of the crisis and work closely with communities to deal with them. The stability of communities is dependent on interventions involving a variety of sectors including infrastructure, policing, an improved justice system, housing, improvements to social capital and community services and mediation.'

The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General, Finn Reske-Nielsen, reinforced the message of the Prime Minister that camp closures are only the first step towards reaching a durable solution for the IDP situation. 'Camp closures must be combined with initiatives that not only address the challenges to the reintegration of IDPs into their home communities but also longer-term development programmes that address the chronic vulnerabilities in Timor-Leste.' The DSRSG emphasized that 'the stability and lasting peace in the country could be jeopardized if the conditions for the reintegration and sustainability of the IDPs return are not in place.'

The Minister for Social Solidarity, Maria Domingas Fernandes Alves, explained the progress that has been made to date on the five pillars of the national recovery strategy. She also discussed the challenges to long term stability, such as: land and property issues; lack of sufficient housing in Dili; tension between community members and returnees over access to basic services, such as water; lack of employment opportunities; and the issue of national identity. During the retreat discussions were held regarding the types of efforts needed by government and partners to resolve these challenges to stabilise communities and ensure sustainable returns. The need to strengthen inter-ministerial coordination mechanisms was also emphasized.

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