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Timor: West Timor security incidents

Briefing notes

Timor: West Timor security incidents

15 February 2000

There have been at least two security incidents in West Timor in the last four days. On Friday, militias stoned UNHCR staff in a car at a settlement for East Timorese refugees at Fatukmetan in West Timor's Atambua area while they were conducting a mass information programme for potential returnees. On Monday, Indonesian police escorts poked a rifle at an aid worker and fired guns in the air, demanding to stop the convoy so the five policemen could eat lunch. UNHCR staff called the Indonesian army and the police were sent back and the convoy proceeded to the border town of Batugade in East Timor. There were no injuries in the two incidents. We have expressed our concern to Indonesian authorities about the upsurge of security incidents in the last four weeks in West Timor, which have disrupted on several occasions our efforts to repatriate the more than 100,000 East Timorese still in the Indonesian province. Close to 140,000 refugees have returned since the repatriation programme began in October, but since mid-December the flow of returnees has slowed considerably despite our mass information efforts because of the presence of militias.