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DATE=10/8/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=EAST TIMOR REFUGEES RETURN NUMBER=2-254787 BYLINE=AMY BICKERS DATELINE=HONG KONG CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Some of the East Timorese refugees who fled violence in their home areas to seek refuge in West Timor are returning, on aid flights sponsored by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Amy Bickers spoke with U-N-H-C-R spokesman Jacques Franquin about the operation and what the refugees can expect when they return home. TEXT: Two planeloads of East Timorese refugees who were living in camps in West Timor returned to their home neighborhoods Friday. They are the first of thousands of refugees to go back on a U-N charted plane making two roundtrips between Kupang, West Timor and Dili, the capital of East Timor. The refugees fled after pro-Indonesia militias went on a bloody rampage following an August East Timorese referendum, which showed strong support for independence from Indonesia. The militias and elements of the Indonesian military forcibly sent many refugees to West Timor. Jacques Franquin -- spokesman for the U-N-H-C-R -- says passengers for Friday's two flights were chosen because they live in Dili, most of which has been secured by international peacekeepers. ///FRANQUIN ACTUALITY /// People who were selected in the first batch coming back are selected because they come from Dili and people are chosen because they have been split from their family and want to join their family. /// END ACTUALITY /// The refugees who left the camps Friday have been living in poor conditions, with no safe water or sanitation. And, many of them are returning to homes that have been destroyed by retreating militias. Mr. Franquin says many East Timorese now in Dili, as well as those returning, lack basic supplies. /// FRANQUIN ACTUALITY /// What we are doing is to provide assistance to people- plastic sheeting, blankets, jerry cans (vessel for carrying water), trying to repair the water system and to bring water to people so they can survive in this situation. We are not in a situation now to go further in terms of repairing and fixing houses. There is absolutely no possibility at this stage. /// END ACTUALITY /// The U-N-H-C-R plans to begin daily flights Monday from Kupang to Dili, and also hopes to eventually repatriate refugees by sea and road. Mr. Franquin says roads remain too dangerous, because the border area remains under militia control. (Signed) NEB/AB/ wd 08-Oct-1999 00:54 AM EDT (08-Oct-1999 0454 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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