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Timor: airbridge returns

Briefing notes

Timor: airbridge returns

15 October 1999

A total of 1,820 people have been air-lifted from Kupang to Dili so far on 19 UNHCR flights, flying three sorties a day. A second aircraft has been chartered and will start operating within the next two days which will double the airbridge capacity. The overland return is still on hold, pending the result of an investigation of the clash between Interfet and Indonesians last weekend. UNHCR is also trying to rent a seaworthy vessel to start ferrying people back to East Timor. The local authorities in Kupang agreed to UNHCR setting up a return processing centre in Kupang to handle the returnees.

On Thursday UNHCR and the Indonesian government signed a formal agreement which gives UNHCR access to the camps and leaves UNHCR in charge of the return process.

Also on Thursday, with the help of the International Organization for Migration another airbridge opened from Jakarta to East Timor. The airlift is supposed to take back home thousands of East Timorese scattered around Java and other islands of Indonesia.