Fri, 21 Mar 2003

Govt disburses resettlement fund

JAKARTA: Minister of Social Affairs Bachtiar Chamsyah said on Wednesday that the government had disbursed resettlement funds for 4,300 Acehnese refugee families in North Sumatra, out of a total of 12,000 families.

"The funds have already been delivered to the North Sumatra administration, which will distribute the money to 4,300 refugee families after verifying their eligibility," he said.

The government halted the disbursements in December following a report on the embezzlement of Rp 2.6 billion (US$289,000) out of total funds worth Rp 105 billion. The alleged corruptors reportedly listed as recipients refugees eligible for resettlement funds of Rp 8.75 million per family.

Bachtiar said 24 alleged corruptors had been questioned by local police. "Most of them are non-governmental organization activists, and some are local officials," he said.

North Sumatra police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Amrin Karim said that Syamsul Bahri, head of the social agency in Binjai, North Sumatra, and two local journalists were among the suspects.

Hundreds of refugees have protested the slow disbursement of funds and 48 have staged a hunger strike for almost two weeks. One refugee, Sakino, died of malnutrition on Saturday, although he was not on the hunger strike. -- JP