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Timor: returns on the increase again

Briefing notes

Timor: returns on the increase again

17 December 1999

After a sharp drop in daily return figures from West to East Timor earlier this month, the numbers of people going back have gone up again to above 1,000 a day in recent days, bringing the total number of returnees to over 118,000. The reasons for the fluctuations are unclear. They can be explained by militia slowly easing their grip on the East Timorese, marking a shift in the attitude of some of the militia leaders. It may also be linked to UNHCR's efforts to counter anti-return propaganda by anti-independence militia through mass information programmes in West Timor camps.

This week, UNHCR shelter kits containing house repair material (timber, corrugated iron sheets, tools and nails as well as cement) started to arrive in Dili. Over the next three months, up to 6,000 shelter kits will be distributed to returnees across East Timor by UNHCR's partner agencies. We have funding for 12,000 more kits while the whole programme will eventually supply up to 35,000 shelter kits to East Timor, as well as the Oecussi exclave.