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Refugees can come home, official says

A Timor Leste diplomat said today that tens of thousands of refugees living in Indonesia would be free to return home without fear of reprisal.

Feliciano da Costa, consul to Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province, said his country would provisionally welcome former residents with open arms.

“Principally, the door is open. However, they must equip themselves with good education in order that they can work together in developing their homeland.”

About 40,000 East Timorese refugees still live as farmers in various camps in East Nusa Tenggara, according to official data.

An estimated 260,000 people fled East Timor amid a wave of violence following the August 1999 independence referendum.

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