News

    Thousands of Refugees Pin Hopes on East Timor's Elections

    Nearly 40,000 people are living in makeshift refugee camps in East Timor, afraid to return home because of violence that has kept this tiny country on edge for most of the past year. As VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins reports from the capital, Dili, many refugees are hoping that Monday's presidential elections, and parliamentary elections that will follow in a few months, will restore stability, and allow them to resume their normal lives.

    Just across from Dili's airport lies a makeshift refugee camp housing around 400 people. This is a common sight here: scores of camps like this one are spread around East Timor's capital.

    The residents of the camps live in dismal conditions. The tents are hot, they flood when it rains, and rats and other vermin are a constant nuisance. The people survive on aid from the United Nations, and on whatever tiny amounts they can earn from small businesses some of them have set up.

    Still, the refugees prefer to put up with conditions like these, rather than return to homes they do not consider safe.

    Telvina da Costa lives with her children and extended family in the camp across from the airport. She is a strong woman, proud to have survived 24 years of harsh Indonesian rule after the territory separated from Portugal in 1975, and the violence that subsequently surrounded East Timor's vote for independence from Indonesia in 1999.

    But Telvina is angry. Her home was destroyed a year ago when violence engulfed Dili after the firing of 600 soldiers led to wide-spread rioting. She and her family were forced to flee to this camp.

    She says she wants to be able to live freely in her own country. She says that is why she voted for independence. She wants jobs so her family can live decently, and she wants a good education for her children.

    There has been sporadic violence in the camps, some of it the result of people living in close quarters, some of it regional: people from one part of the country fighting with those from another.

    Still, the camps are situated near areas patrolled by an international security force led by Australia. The residents consider the camps safer than the capital city.

    Like so many others here, Telvina is hoping Monday's presidential elections will run smoothly, and bring the stability needed to allow them to return home.

    All of the presidential candidates have said that resettling the refugees is a top priority. However, people like Lionel da Cruz, who lost his home during last year's riots and has lived in a camp with his wife for the last year, doesn't believe them.

    Da Cruz says he fears violence will erupt again between the political parties no matter who wins the election, and this will keep him in the camp for some time to come.

    "According to this situation, I'm still worried, because what I'm thinking, maybe it's getting to be a problem again, because if some of the bigger parties lose in this election, they will fight each other, and after that they talk about [democratization], but the problem is already done," said Da Cruz.

    Eight candidates are running for the largely ceremonial post of president. Unless one wins more than 50 percent of the vote, a run-off between the top two contenders will take place in 30 days. 

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora