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.



Does the National Recovery Strategy amount to a reparations programme?

The NRS can undoubtedly be described as a humanitarian or post-crisis policy that was successful in ending internal displacement in Timor-Leste. Indeed, today there are no indications that former IDPs continue to have significant vulnerabilities that are different from those affecting the general population and directly related to their earlier predicament. While this could be the topic of a separate article, the situation of (former) IDPs in Timor-Leste today arguably no longer differs from that of the general population, when measured against the eight criteria laid down by the IASC Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons. Surveys undertaken by IOM underscore this empirically, finding no notable differences between the situation of IDPs and communities in terms of access to basic services, such as water, education and health, and levels of unemployment. The question that will be addressed in this final part of the article is whether the NRS, in addition to being a successful policy to end displacement, can also be considered a “reparations programme” for IDPs in Timor-Leste and, as such, an integral component of transitional justice policy in respect of the 2006 crisis.


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