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Start of repatriation in Timor

Briefing notes

Start of repatriation in Timor

8 October 1999

UNHCR today airlifted 173 East Timorese from West Timor's capital Kupang to Dili. The operation went smoothly. The arriving refugees were given an enthusiastic welcome in Dili. French army trucks were cheered by bystanders as they drove the returnees from the airport to the transit camp at the sports stadium. Virtually all people from the first group moved on to their homes quickly after receiving some food, plastic sheeting and other aid. None remained at the stadium. The returnees were all in good health. Two handicapped people in wheelchairs were also okay. There will be more repatriation flights tomorrow and in the following days. The departure from Kupang went well with no incidents.

The High Commissioner hailed the airlift as a first step toward a large scale return of East Timorese.