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Timor: 1,000+ move to UNHCR transit centre

Briefing notes

Timor: 1,000+ move to UNHCR transit centre

14 March 2000

More than 1,000 East Timorese have moved out of three major refugee encampments in West Timor's Kupang area in the largest movements from these facilities so far since the repatriation programme started in October.

These people from Tuapukan, Noelbaki and Naimbonat camps are now at the UNHCR transit centre in Kupang, awaiting arrangements for their final destinations from

the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), and CNRT, the umbrella organisation for East Timorese political groups. 450 of them are scheduled to leave for Dili by an IOM-chartered boat later today. The group includes 20 former Indonesian army (TNI) soldiers who had de-commissioned from TNI. The group's final destination is Los Palos in the east of East Timor.

The remainder of the 1,000 strong group currently in UNHCR's transit centre come from Ailieu (pronounced Aye-Liuh), a town in the southern outskirts of Dili regarded as a stronghold of the Falintil (the National Liberation Armed Forces of East Timor). UNHCR wants to have assurances from the East Timorese political leaders and UNTAET that they will be able to return in safety before taking them back.

More than 150,000 of the estimated 250,000 people from East Timor who came to West Timor in the aftermath of the violence that followed the 30 August vote for independence of East Timor have returned home.

UNHCR hopes that the safe return of this group now at the Kupang transit centre will give momentum to the repatriation programme, which has slowed since late December.