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Timor: Kupang area relief activities resume

Briefing notes

Timor: Kupang area relief activities resume

4 July 2000

Aid workers today resumed relief activities at the refugee camps in West Timor's Kupang area which had been suspended for two weeks following assaults on UNHCR staff and refugees. During a four-hour meeting on Monday, the provincial governor announced acceptance of UNHCR's proposals to secure workers and refugees against pro-Indonesian elements opposing repatriation to East Timor.

The measures include police taking charge of security in the camps and maintaining a 24-hour presence. Today, aid workers began food distribution at Noelbaki camp. Workers also went to nearby Tuapukan, but the road from there to Naimbonat remained blockaded by local residents armed with machetes and spears, accusing refugees of provoking violence and demanding that they be sent home. The blockade was set up over the weekend and tension remains.

UNHCR stressed to Indonesian authorities that continuation of our relief programmes will depend on the government's firm commitment to implement the agreed security decisions; its determined efforts to control troublemakers; and concrete initiatives to separate military and ex-militiamen from genuine refugees.

UNHCR suspended activities at Noelbaki, Tuapukan and Naimbonat on June 20 after two security incidents in which anti-repatriation elements commandeered a UNHCR vehicle and detained staff in one camp.