Timor: Tua Pukan team deployed
Four more children under age 5 died on Monday at Tua Pukan, bringing to at least 174 the number of deaths from various ailments since September at the camp outside Kupang. We have deployed a 41-member medical team to this facility. While UNHCR's main focus in West Timor is repatriation, we are concerned about the appalling conditions at Tua Pukan. There are a number of makeshift camps in West Timor and we are afraid that with the onset of the rainy season, conditions will be similar to those in Tua Pukan. Unfortunately we have not had full access to these camps for security reasons.
One positive development in the security situation is the agreement in principle by Indonesian military authorities to separate the militias from the refugees. In our meetings in Kupang, local military and provincial officials have offered a facility to shelter militias and their families as well as former and active army members. The director of UNHCR's Asia bureau is now in Kupang and is discussing this with officials there. He is proceeding to the border town of Atambua tomorrow.
On the mass information front, we are scheduled to show a video presentation at Nai Bonat camp outside Kupang this afternoon. There are more "go-and-see visits" being conducted not only from camps in Kupang but from the border areas as well to counter misinformation by militias opposed to repatriation.
Return figures for today remain low, with only 314 Timorese going back overland through two crossings from Atambua and Betun along the border with East Timor. So far, more than 113,000 refugees have returned since the UNHCR-IOM repatriation programme started in October.
Details on the situation in Tua Pukan camp as well as discussions on security issues are in yesterday's Timor Emergency Update.