Wed, 29 Mar 2000

Settlers return home

JAYAPURA, Irian Jaya: More than 260 settlers have abandoned their government-funded transmigration camps in Bonggo, Jayapura regency, because of food shortages, an official said on Monday.

Jan Pali, the head of the Transmigration Minister Office in Jayapura, said those who left were mostly transmigrants at the resettlement units VII and VIII who came from East Nusa Tenggara, West Java and Jakarta.

Settlers said that because of the absence of drainage systems, their homes were continually inundated by water and they could not plant anything on their land.

Sukiman, one of the settlers, said they were heading towards Jayapura. "We shall not return," he said.

"We are victims of bad government policy. The government must send us home or transfer us to better locations."

The settlers have sold their property, including cattle, which were given to them by the government.

Police arrested four of the settlers when they were caught trying to sell property that belonged to the state. (eba)