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Timor: UNHCR reduces presence after attacks

Briefing notes

Timor: UNHCR reduces presence after attacks

15 August 2000

Following threats of protests and attacks last week, UNHCR has reduced its staff presence along the West Timor border. Only two remain in the UNHCR Atambua office of the 12 international staff members usually posted there. Since July 27, when UNHCR and IOM repatriated more than 300 returnees, no returns overland have been made. However, a boatload of 140 returnees sailed for Dili in East Timor today from the provincial capital of Kupang in West Timor.

There have been newspaper reports quoting the Indonesian Foreign Minister as saying Jakarta plans to close down the camps in West Timor within three to six months. We have not heard about this officially. We continue to be in contact with the Indonesian government on their plans for the East Timor refugees. UNHCR maintains that the key to any solution of the East Timor refugee problem in West Timor is the separation of former militias, army soldiers and civil servants from genuine refugees; the maintenance of law and order in the camps; and clarification of the status of East Timorese employed by the Indonesian government.