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First Timor returns by boat

Briefing notes

First Timor returns by boat

26 October 1999

A UNHCR team is arranging for the first return to Dili by boat from the West Timor port of Atapupu near the border with East Timor. The team is meeting with the Indonesian military in the area and Interfet on the East Timor side. We are optimistic that the first returns by ferry from Atapupu to Dili will take place before the weekend.

In the meantime, returns by boat and by plane from Kupang in West Timor to Dili are continuing. A ship will sail from Kupang today with about 2,000 returnees - the fourth return by sea from the West Timor capital. Also, five airlift flights are scheduled today from Kupang with around 500 returnees.

Revised figures released by the government to UNHCR today in Kupang showed there are 219,000 people from East Timor who are now in West Timor - 150,000 of them in the Belo regency where Atapupu is located. The government says 60 percent of them want to return to East Timor.