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Timor: UNHCR-IOM team stoned

Briefing notes

Timor: UNHCR-IOM team stoned

22 February 2000

Militiamen stoned a UNHCR-IOM team in West Timor's border town of Atambua today, damaging an IOM vehicle and disrupting a move to repatriate more than 1,000 East Timorese refugees. No one was injured, but only 179 of the refugees managed to repatriate from Atambua.

We raised this incident with Indonesian authorities who promised to tighten security. We are concerned at the continuing harassment by militiamen of aid workers and refugees in West Timor. There has been a spate of at least five security incidents along the border over the past three weeks. Unless militia activity is stopped and anti-repatriation elements are removed from the camps, we may have to reconsider our assistance programmes in West Timor.

The Center for Disease Control expert in Kupang says she has been unable to confirm the Antara news agency report on Friday that 700 mostly children and pregnant mothers had died of diseases in the camps since September. She said the mortality rate in the camps is about the same as in other parts of Indonesia. However, she said a "surveillance" programme has been put in place in the camps.