Ending the 2006 Internal Displacement Crisis in Timor-Leste

Between Humanitarian Aid and Transitional Justice

image of Ending the 2006 Internal Displacement Crisis in Timor-Leste
The 2006 crisis in Timor-Leste saw close to 15 per cent of the population displaced from their homes, threatening to sink the country into protracted instability and violence. Remarkably, less than five years later, the country looks to be back on track, with the internal displacement file from 2006 largely resolved. This study examines the National Recovery Strategy adopted by the Government of Timor-Leste to address the crisis, including the move towards a cash grant programme, and analyses the strengths and weaknesses of national and local measures taken to provide solutions to the displaced. In doing so, the author connects the case of Timor-Leste to the wider debate on displacement, durable solutions and transitional justice, and offers important conclusions for practitioners from each of these perspectives.



Devising the National Recovery Strategy: Pragmatism prevails

In its original design, the National Recovery Strategy (NRS) to end displacement in East Timor, adopted on 12 December 2007, had five complementary pillars that intended to address all obstacles to return or resettlement and, importantly, closure of camps in an integrated manner. The five pillars were: 1) “Together Building Confidence” (with an objective to “increase trust between the people and the government and strengthen community); 2) “Together Building Social Economy” (with an objective to “create livelihood opportunities for all not only in areas of return but also in the districts”); 3) “Together Building Stability” (with an objective to “address security concerns and to create an environment conductive to return or resettlement”); 4) “Together Building Protection” (with an objective to establish a social safety net for the most vulnerable with “due attention to the specific needs of the IDPs”); and 5) “Together Building Homes” (with an objective to help IDPs return home where it is safe and possible and to provide new houses where it is not). In practice, however, the NRS was never fully implemented and only the first and last pillars were operationalized in an extensive way.


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