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Timor: airbridge returns

Briefing notes

Timor: airbridge returns

12 October 1999

UNHCR transported a total of 280 returnees today from Kupang in West Timor to Dili in East Timor. The first flight carried 93 people, the second 97 and the third 90. So far we have transported 940 returnees in 10 flights since Friday.

As word of the returns spread in the camps, hundreds of displaced Timorese are showing up at the Assumption Church in Kupang, which we are trying to clear out. We hope to begin moving out people from the Gor and Koni camps in Kupang in the coming days. People have also been coming to Kupang from Atambua on buses. We are also chartering a second Transall C160 to increase the pace of the returns. Today, the vice-governor of West Timor told us he will help us negotiate the use of a commercial ferry, which we hope to use in the coming days.

On Monday, UNHCR opened an office in the border town of Atambua. We expect to begin returns from Atambua shortly, first by air and later by land and sea.