TITLE=EAST TIMOR REFUGEES RETURN
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)
08-Oct-1999 00:54 AM EDT (08-Oct-1999 0454 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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