Kendari, SE Sulawesi (ANTARA News) - Social Affairs Minister Salim Segaf Al Jufri met with representatives of former Maluku and North Maluku refugees who staged a protest rally outside the Swiss-Belhotel here on Thursday.

On the occasion the minister said the aspirations of ex Maluku and North Maluku refugees would be followed up by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Southeast Sulawesi provincial government.

"In this case, it is better to hear refugees` aspirations directly from the people concerned because they know the realities of their own fate," the minister said in his encounter with the representatives of the former refugees.

Commenting on compensation funds and cost-of-living assistance demanded by the demonstrators, the minister said the funds were not there any more.

But he said the government would realize an educational assistance program in the form of venture capital to be managed by groups.

"We are planning a rapid assistance program that could yield benefits in three to five months` time," he said.

Tens of thousands of dis[;aced people from Maluku and North Maluku took refuge in Southeast Sulawesi during the three-year sectarian conflict in Maluku and North Maluku in the period 1999-2002.

Mutanafas and Tahir Wabula, the representatives of ex Maluku and North Maluku refugees expressed hope that the assistance from the Social Affairs Ministry would soon be realized.

"Venture capital is also good and we do not demand something grandiose but what we need is the government`s attention ," Mutanafas and Tahir Wabula said.(*)

Editor: Jafar M Sidik
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