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Snowdon calls for register of missing East Timorese families



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MEDIA Release

Hon. Warren Snowdon M.P.

AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY

Member for the Northern Territory

7 September 1999

Snowdon calls for register of missing East Timorese families Federal member for the Northern Territory, Warren Snowdon, today called for a register to be established for Australians who feared their families or friends were missing in East Timor.

“I have been receiving calls from people who cannot contact family and friends and whose fate is : unknown,” Mr Snowdon said.

“These people are extremely upset and feel completely helpless. They are in despair.

“I will be seeking discussions with UNAMET and a number of NGOs, including the Red Cross, Care and Caritas for advice as to whether or not a register is in place or how such a register should be put together and who should be responsible for managing and maintaining it.

“As an initial step we will set up a temporary register in my Darwin office.

“The task could well be a huge one as I have had one estimate that there could be up to 150,000 displaced people in East Timor at this moment,” Mr Snowdon said.

“Those Australians who are unable to contact their relatives who may have been forcibly removed from their homes and relocated -and/or whose fate is otherwise unknown - can in the first instance contact my office.

“In doing so we will require some basic information such as name, sex, age, address, phone numbers, occupation, when and where last contacted and last known location, for those missing,” Mr Snowdon said.

“Clearly there is also need to establish a database o f families who have been split up, where fathers and mothers have been separated from each other or from their children. As with Kosovo there will be a need to establish a child-tracing register.

“Australia has an enormous obligation to help the people of East Timor in every way we possibly can, from pressuring the Indonesian Government into allowing a peace keeping force, to the urgent supply o f aid, and to tasks such as co-ordinating a family register and locating and reuniting those missing," Mr Snowdon said.

Note:

• Data can be phoned through to 08-8945 7400 or toll-free 1800 453 026 (Northern Territory only), faxed to 08-8945 9899 or emailed to warren.snowdon.mp@aph.gov.au.

• Lurdes Fires is a Territorian with a missing family in Saui in East Timor. She can be interviewed on 08-8987 3078.

Ends

Contact: Tony Haritos 08-8945 7400, 0417 804 878

DARWIN 13 Scaturchio St, Casuarina PO Box 40100, Casuarina, NT 0811 Phone: 08-8945 7400 Fax 08-8945 9899

ALICE SPRINGS Unit 1, Yeperenye Centre PO Box 4007, Alice Springs, NT 0871 Phone: 08-8952 9696 Fax: 08-8952 5922

CANBERRA RG32, Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600 02-6277 4520 02-6277 8480

Snowdon homepage: www.ozemail.com.au/-wsnowdon Email: wsnowdon@ozemail.com.au Or: warren.snowdon.mp@aph.gov.au J