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Delay in the registration procedure in Timor

Briefing notes

Delay in the registration procedure in Timor

11 July 2000

UNHCR is delaying for at least 24 hours the registration of East Timorese refugees in four border districts of West Timor to review procedures mainly arising out of security concerns.

Registration had been scheduled tomorrow (Wednesday) in Atambua, Kefamenanu, Betun and Soe for which 700 workers, including 300 university students and teachers, had been mobilized. No registration was scheduled for the main Kupang camps, which host around 25,000 of the estimated over 100,000 East Timorese refugees in West Timor, because of the volatile security situation there.

While reaction to registration among the refugee population has been positive, there were those who oppose it. In Betun, drivers this morning refused to move out of the UNHCR compound after they received threats from refugee elements opposing registration. In two encampments in Atambua, refugees refused to allow UNHCR staff to prepare for the registration. An angry crowd surrounded the staff there and required police to escort them out unharmed.

We regret the delay but again we would like to stress, as we have done repeatedly throughout this emergency, that without security guarantees from the Indonesian authorities there is very little that we can do to solve the refugee problems in West Timor.