Timor: West Timor repatriation begins
A total of 911 refugees aboard two ferries returned today to the East Timor capital of Dili at the start of a repatriation programme from the West Timor port of Atapupu.
The refugees started boarding 42 trucks at 4 a.m. at Nanuk camp outside Atambua, the main town in the Belu district along the border with East Timor. They were then accompanied by UNHCR staff and police escorts during the 45-minute drive to Atapupu, 20 kilometres north of Atambua.
After being provided with food and water, the refugees departed aboard two ferries chartered by the International Organization for Migration at 11 a.m. for the eight-hour trip to Dili. The movement out of Atapupu will continue on Saturday, with two ferry trips scheduled. Also on Saturday, a ship is to transport refugees from the West Timor capital of Kupang in a continuing return operation from the area.
So far around 24,000 refugees have returned to East Timor from various regions in Indonesia, including 17,000 from West Timor. The others were flown from Jakarta, Surabaya and Denpasar. On Thursday, returns from Australia began, with 42 returning to Dili on a flight from Darwin.