Honored With Timor-Leste’s Highest Order

Dr. Gunnar Stålsett and Mr. Alfredo Zamudio from the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) conferred “Order de Timor” for their work in Timor-Leste. This is the first time Norwegians receives the prestigious distinction.

Then foreign minister, and now President, Jose Ramos-Horta requested Norwegian assistance in handling the national crisis following the 2006 riots, which left almost 10 % of the inhabitants internally displaced.

Stålsett was appointed Special Envoy to Timor-Leste to assist with the difficult process of peace and reconciliation, and has been actively engaged as a mediator and facilitated dialogue between political leaders to find a lasting solution to the problem of internal refugees.

Since 2008 he has worked extensively on the “National Consensus Dialogue on Truth, Justice and Reconciliation” which has brought together parliamentarians and other key politicians in Timor-Leste. Stålsett has also initiated a number of high level consultations on key issues, “justice for the poor,” “youth, identity and nation building” and “women for peace.” Stålsett’s engagement in Timor-Leste is now ending, but the reconciliation process will be continued by the Timorese government, parliament and civil society.

Country Director Zamuido was in charge of the NRC’s work with the 150 000 internally displaced persons, and built up NRC’s organization in the country. NRC has built 595 transitional shelters for the internally displaced, and has, in collaboration with the Timorese government, been engaged with building and equipping 30 schools throughout the country. All transitional camps have now been closed, and the last refugees moved to permanent residences in 2009. NRC will end their engagement in Timor-Leste this year, and can look back at an active cooperation with the Timorese government that has left behind concrete results for future generations of Timor-Leste.

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