Adelaide Uni offers safe haven for East Timor refugees

Thursday, 9 September 1999

With the conflict in East Timor worsening by the hour, Adelaide University has pledged its humanitarian support in the form of accommodation - if required - for East Timorese refugees.

There has been widespread concern around the University about the situation unfolding in East Timor.

In response to this concern, Adelaide University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mary O'Kane, has written to the Minister for Foreign Affairs offering the University's assistance.

If evacuation of refugees becomes necessary, the University has offered accommodation for about 100 people on its Roseworthy campus, near Gawler north of Adelaide.

In addition, the University has offered to assist later-year refugee students by helping them to complete their studies at Adelaide, and would welcome to Adelaide University refugee members of staff of the University of East Timor.

"We are extremely concerned about the plight of the East Timorese people and although our efforts may not amount to much in the scheme of things, we hope that in some small way we can provide East Timorese people with a safe and welcoming haven," Professor O'Kane says.

"I dearly hope that these offers will not need to be taken up at all. However, the Australian Government has been offered our assistance and we would be pleased to honour that commitment."

Professor O'Kane says Adelaide University continues to value its long and developing relationship with Indonesia, "especially the valuable people-to-people contacts with our Indonesian students, academic colleagues in Indonesia, and our staff", she says.

"Our offer to help the people of East Timor is a simple one - an act of genuine concern for people who are going through intense suffering and hardship at this time."

Adelaide University has also announced its long-term goal to establish on-going links with the University of East Timor, to support the university as it adjusts to its new situation in an independent country.

 

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Mr David Ellis
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