Timor-Leste: Second wave of relief supplies to start early next week

Briefing Notes, 23 June 2006

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 23 June 2006, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The second wave of dispatching UNHCR relief supplies bound for Timor-Leste is due to get under way early next week. On Monday 26 June, a DC-10 chartered aircraft carrying 63 tonnes of shelter supplies lightweight tents, plastic sheeting and blankets is scheduled to depart Amman, Jordan bound for our staging point in Darwin in northern Australia. The emergency supplies will then be transferred to a container ship heading for the Timor-Leste capital of Dili on 6 July, arriving the following day. On Tuesday, 71 tonnes of lightweight tents and plastic sheeting are expected to be shipped from our regional stockpile in Dubai to Dili arriving 18 July. This will bring to a total of 353 tonnes of supplies shipped by UNHCR to Dili to help up to 30,000 of the 145,000 displaced in the troubled country (78,000 outside Dili, and 67,000 in the capital).

Yesterday (22 June), UNHCR completed construction of the IDP (internally displaced persons) camp at Dili airport with a total of 581 tents now pitched at the site, including 59 tents adjacent to the Meteorological Bureau. A wire fence around the perimeter of the main camp and lighting has also been installed. Construction of toilets, showers and water points is under way and is expected be finished within the next week. Some 4,600 people originally registered by site volunteer organizers have moved into the tents over the past 10 days.

So far, UNHCR has distributed more than 1,700 tents to some 20 sites in Dili and surrounding areas. In addition, some 17,000 blankets, 1,969 plastic sheets, 960 jerry cans, 55 kitchen sets and 155 stoves have been distributed to the displaced.

Initially, the focus of our operations was Dili but now delivery of relief items to surrounding districts is well under way. Following the distribution of some 350 tents and plastic sheets to Metinaro last week, we sent 50 tents, 535 blankets and 250 plastic sheets to Auturo Island yesterday as part of an inter-agency consignment of relief aid. Over the last few days in the Hera area, 25 kilometres to the east of Dili, UNHCR distributed aid to two communities (including easterners and westerners). At Hera port, 305 families are living in the fenced marine compound in buildings as well as camping under plastic sheets and in makeshift huts of leaves and palm fronds. UNHCR has provided tents, blankets, plastic sheets and jerry cans to the community of mainly 'easterners'.

Elsewhere in the Hera district, UNHCR has assisted the local population (considered 'westerners') which have fled their villages to the surrounding hills. Some 1,000 blankets, 600 plastic sheets and 600 jerry cans have been delivered to Mota Ulun to assist people sheltering under trees and in makeshift huts in the Sukaer Laran, Ailok Laran and Moris Foun sub villages. Further distribution is expected to be carried out shortly in remaining sub-villages near Hera.

We are liaising closely with the ICRC and other agencies over shelter and protection needs for the 78,000 people displaced outside of Dili. Yesterday UNHCR was part of an inter-agency mission to Maliana, Suai and Aileu.




UNHCR country pages

Emergency in Timor-Leste pt.5: The Emergency Operation Reaches Out

In mid-June UNHCR extended its emergency relief operation in Timor-Leste to include tens of thousands of people who fled violence in the capital Dili for districts in the countryside. An estimated 79,000 displaced people are in outlying districts with some 72,000 displaced in Dili.

The UN refugee agency has delivered shelter materials and emergency supplies to easterners and westerners in Hera village, 25 kilometres to the east of Dili. Most of the inhabitants of Hera are westerners and have fled their homes and taken to the hills. A smaller group of easterners have moved to the safety of a fenced naval compound, where they have been joined by easterners who fled Dili. UNHCR has also delivered shelter materials to Metinaro, 40 minutes outside of Dili, as well as to Auturo Island.

Despite sporadic violence, UNHCR continues to help the displaced who say they are still too scared to return to their homes and will wait in temporary shelters until the crisis ends.

Emergency in Timor-Leste pt.5: The Emergency Operation Reaches Out

Emergency in Timor-Leste pt.1: Recent Violence

June 2006

Recent violence in Timor-Leste has displaced about 100,000 people, with 65,000 sheltering in 40 squalid encampments in the capital, Dili, and a further 35,000 taking refuge in the countryside. A UNHCR assessment team visited the makeshift camps in Dili end May and reported the most critical humanitarian needs, aside from security, were food, clean water and shelter.

In a phased response to the crisis and as part of a joint UN effort, UNHCR deployed an emergency team to reinforce staff on the ground and is now airlifting in urgently needed supplies for some 30,000 displaced. The first flight, which arrived in Dili on June 5, brought 14 tonnes of lightweight family tents, plastic sheets and jerry cans from UNHCR stockpiles in Jordan.

UNHCR and its partners will use these items to establish new, planned camps for the displaced, where they can live in better conditions and assistance will be easier to deliver, until the security situation improves and they can return to their homes.

Emergency in Timor-Leste pt.1: Recent Violence

Emergency in Timor-Leste pt.4: UNHCR Sets Up Camps

With the first wave of UNHCR's air and sea operation to rush relief supplies to Timor-Leste completed, the focus is now on improving the living conditions of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) living in crowded, unsanitary makeshift camps around Dili.

Many of the 69,000 displaced in Dili have told UNHCR they prefer to stay near the makeshift sites where they feel safe. In response, UNHCR has begun searching for additional sites around these areas to clear ground, pitch tents and decongest the existing makeshift shelters. Not all makeshift sites are suitable for expansion, so UNHCR is moving ahead with the establishment and planning of new sites.

UNHCR has sent an assessment team to the countryside where some 78,000 Timorese have sought refuge. Many displaced are staying with relatives, while others are sheltering in huts, offices, church building and spontaneous camp sites. We are now delivering assistance to some of these people.

Emergency in Timor-Leste pt.4: UNHCR Sets Up Camps