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Senior UNHCR officials visit Indonesia, East Timor

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Senior UNHCR officials visit Indonesia, East Timor

10 September 2001

JAKARTA - UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner Søren Jessen-Petersen arrived in Jakarta on Monday for talks with Indonesian officials.

Jessen-Petersen, accompanied by the refugee agency's director for Asia and the Pacific, Jean-Marie Fakhouri, is scheduled to meet with senior government officials. The talks are expected to focus on prospects for the return of 80,000 East Timorese refugees still remaining in West Timor.

The UNHCR officials will also travel to West Timor for meetings with local authorities in the provincial capital, Kupang.

Jessen-Petersen is the highest-ranking UNHCR official to visit Indonesia since three UNHCR workers were murdered by an angry mob in the West Timor town of Atambua on September 6, 2000. The murder shocked the international community and prompted the United Nations to withdraw its entire staff from West Timor.

The UNHCR officials are also expected to travel to UN-administered East Timor for talks with UN Administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello and newly elected local officials.

An estimated 183,000 East Timorese who had fled to West Timor during violence that followed the pro-independence referendum of 1999 have since returned to East Timor, but some 80,000 remain in West Timor.