'Kirsty Sword Gusmao wants kids brought home'

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Sara Everingham reported this story on Monday, March 22, 2010 12:42:00
"ELEANOR HALL: The wife of the East Timorese Prime Minister is calling for the immediate return to Dili of a group of teenagers who were taken to Malaysia by an Australian woman. Fairfax newspapers are reporting that the woman took the Timorese children to Malaysia in 2006 ostensibly for medical treatment.

Sara Everingham has more

SARA EVERINGHAM: The wife of East Timor's Prime Minister, Kirsty Sword Gusmao says she has many concerns about the group of Timorese teenagers who were taken to Malaysia by the Australian woman Lala Noronha.

KIRSTY SWORD GUSMAO: I'm very concerned that since they've been in Malaysia there's been very little information back to myself, to Government, regarding their whereabouts, their circumstances, whether their actually engaged in studies, what their physical and mental health is like at the present time.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Would you like these teenagers to be brought back to East Timor?

KIRSTY SWORD GUSMAO: The children were only ever taken out of Timor Leste ostensibly for the reasons of sort of medical treatment that wasn't available in Timor Leste. There was never any intention or any plan as far as I as patron at that time was aware, for them to remain in Malaysia long term.

So for me it is of great that they continue to be there and there doesn't seem to be any clear timeline in place for their repatriation to Timor Leste.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The children were taken from an orphanage in Dili and Lala Noronha says 16 are in Malaysia in her care. She says during the security crisis of 2006 Malaysian peacekeepers helped look after the children at the orphanage.

She says she took the children to Malaysia for essential medical treatment not available in east Timor. She spoke to The World Today from Sydney.

LALA NORONHA: So that my focus in the time is for the health you know? My focus is always the kids.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Lala Noronha was a founder of the orphanage. Kirsty Sword Gusmao was its patron. Kirsty Sword Gusmao's been a strong advocate of women's and children's rights in East Timor and for several years has been raising her concerns about the children with East Timor's Government. She's worried they've been encouraged to think badly about their country.

KIRSTY SWORD GUSMAO: It concerned me greatly at the time that there seemed to be an attempt to poison the kids against their own homeland and for them to rather than feeling that they had a positive contribution to make to the country that you know the country was a basket case and their future lay abroad.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Kirsty Sword Gusmao also says the teenagers still have family in East Timor and should now return because peace and stability have been restored. But she fears they don't have enough money to return home.

KIRSTY SWORD GUSMAO: Yes in fact the majority of the children taken out of East Timor were not orphans in the true sense of the word. I think only about seven out of the total of 30 or more were without a living parent.

So they do have families who are no doubt quite concerned about them and probably have very strong feelings about where they should be right now.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Lala Noronha says one of the girls who returned to Timor after her medical treatment is now pregnant and apparently now has no home and no help. She says the others are studying and are happy.

LALA NORONHA: I am not forcing them to stay. I'm not forcing them to stay, even then what Kirsty said about the families I'm aware about that that's why I always I have a group. The kids have a group, a cultural group so that they are not like lost from their culture.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Australian woman Lala Noronha ending Sara Everingham's report. "
Fonte: The World Today | ©2010 ABC | Privacy Policy | Conditions of Use
Áudio: http://www.abc.net.au/news/audio/2010/03/22/2852478.htm

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