Dealing with the 2006 Internal Displacement Crisis in Timor-Leste: Between Reparations and Humanitarian Policymaking

Peter Van der Auweraert
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The 2006 crisis in Timor-Leste saw close to 15 percent of the population displaced from their homes, threatening to sink the country into protracted instability and violence. Remarkably, five years later the country was back on track, with the internal displacement issue largely resolved. This paper looks at the National Recovery Strategy (NRS) that the government adopted to resolve internal displacement in Timor-Leste. Following a discussion of the NRS, the paper considers whether or not its cash-grant scheme qualifies as a full-fledged reparations effort. The paper concludes that while the strategy had characteristics usually associated with (administrative) reparations programs, a number of factors stand in the way of wholeheartedly qualifying it as a reparations effort. Nevertheless, the experience of Timor-Leste contains a number of important lessons for reparations efforts with respect to displaced populations in other contexts.