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Timor-Leste: UNHCR airlift under way

Briefing notes

Timor-Leste: UNHCR airlift under way

6 June 2006 Also available in:

UNHCR's emergency airlift of shelter supplies for some 30,000 displaced people in Timor-Leste is under way, with the first flight landing in Dili yesterday (Monday). A second flight, a B-747 jumbo jet bound for Darwin in northern Australia, is set to leave Amman, Jordan, later today, arriving Wednesday. Another B-747 is scheduled to depart Amman on Thursday, arriving in Darwin the following day. The supplies flown to Darwin on the big jets will then be ferried to Dili in smaller planes and possibly by sea.

In total, 400 tonnes of supplies from our regional Middle East stockpiles are expected to be sent to Timor-Leste. Supplies include lightweight family tents, plastic sheeting, jerry cans, blankets and kitchen sets.

The first flight, an Antonov-12 cargo plane, brought in 14 tonnes of urgently needed lightweight family tents, plastic sheets and jerry cans from UNHCR stockpiles in Jordan. The supplies are being stored temporarily in portable warehouses, flown in Sunday from UNHCR's logistics base in Medan, Indonesia, and rapidly set up in a secure area next to the airport.

In coordination with other agencies, UNHCR will use the newly arrived supplies to ease congestion among the more crowded spontaneous sites that have sprung up in Dili, and those with the poorest conditions. Lack of security in these camps is of great concern to UNHCR with poor conditions and overcrowding exacerbating tensions. Security in the camps would normally be police work but in the absence of any national police force we are calling on the international security forces to provide support. UNHCR expects to initially establish two planned camps to ease the overcrowding in the spontaneous sites. A number of potential, additional sites are currently being assessed in coordination with the Ministry of Labour.

Some 65,000 people have fled their homes in Dili and sought refuge next to churches, convents, clinics, schools, international agencies, the airport and other sites. There are currently about 40 spontaneous sites of various sizes in eight districts of the capital.

UNHCR's 10-member emergency team arrived in Dili over the weekend and yesterday. They are reinforcing a team already on the ground. The team includes camp planning specialists as well as protection, community services, logistics and administration personnel.

UNHCR plans to work closely with other agencies to develop a coordinated approach to protection, putting in place systems to protect the vulnerable. We are urgently seeking some US $4.5 million in funding for the Timor-Leste operation.