Timor Leste govt urged to issue border-crossing passes

Kupang (ANTARA News) – The Timor Leste government should soon issue border-crossing passes to its citizens to enable them to enter Indonesian territory for economic or social visits legally, an offifical of Belu district, a part of East Nusatenggara province bordering on the neigboring country, said.

With the introduction of border-crossing passes, illegal border crosssing activity could also be expected to decrease, Belu district administration chief Joachim Lopez said here Tuesday.

Timor Leste should introduce the passes in accordance with an agreement reached with the Indonesian goverment at the end of 2003, he said.

“We ask the Indonesian government to continue urging Timor Leste to issue border-crossing passes so that none of its citizens needs to become an illegal border-crosser,” Lopez said.

He said Timor Leste citizens living in border areas such as Balibo in Bobonaro district or Salele in Kovalima district always preferred to cross the border with Indonesia to reach Belu district rather than go anywhere else when they needed to buy daily necessaries.

Yet by crossing the border illegally, they risked being arrested by Indonesian police or military border guards.

The Indonesian government was aware of the Timor Leste`s need and had therefore provided for the opening of traditional markets at certain points on the border such as at Mota`ain, Turiskain and Motamasin in Belu district.

“But these markets intended to be visited by Timor Leste people carrying border-crossing passes in reality attracted only local residents. Traders eventually abandoned these markets as no Timor Leste people carrying border-crossing-passes had come,” Lopez said.

Timor Leste people themselves were also reluctant to visit those markets as to do so they had to obtain passports and visit visa as long as their government had not yet issued border-crossing passes. (*)

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