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DATE=10/19/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=UNHCR TIMOR (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-255239 BYLINE=LISA SCHLEIN DATELINE=GENEVA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The United Nations Refugee Agency, U-N-H- C-R, reports that thousands of people poured across the border from West to East Timor on Tuesday. Lisa Schlein in Geneva reports the agency says this is the first large-scale, return of refugees to East Timor since it began repatriating the East Timorese refugees over one week ago. TEXT: The U-N Refugee Agency estimates up to six-thousand refugees have crossed into East Timor at a rate of about 500 people an hour. The agency believes this number could swell to 17- thousand by the end of the day. The refugees, mostly women and children, are arriving in the border town of Maliana. Many are coming by foot. The people have been telling aid workers they had been forcibly pushed into West Timor by militias in early September, only days after the pro- independence referendum was held in East Timor. U-N-H-C-R spokesman, Kris Janowski, says the people are returning on their own because they believe it is safe to go back home. /// JANOWSKI ACT /// At the same time, we're seeing a return from the hills of primarily men who had been in hiding for weeks now trying to find and join their families. They're coming to the Maliana and to (the) Suai area which is on the seacoast - very destroyed, almost completely looted. Nonetheless deemed by the people as fairly secure with Interfet (international peacekeepers) establishing their presence there. ///END ACT/// Mr. Janowski says several aid agencies are rushing plastic sheeting and water containers for about 25-thousand people to the area. He says a convoy with food and other relief supplies will follow. In the meantime, Mr. Janowski says the repatriation operation is gathering momentum. He says there are now four flights leaving every day from the West Timorese capital, Kupang, for Dili. And, the agency has lined up two boats to take people home by sea. /// JANOWSKI ACT /// The boat would certainly increase the return and the whole capacity of this whole movement. At the same time, we're setting up a transit center for people who are being flown from Kupang to the East. And this transit center is being set up in Kupang. It will be handling thousands of people a day. /// END ACT /// Mr. Janowski says the refugees will be bussed to the center from camps. They will be registered and given a medical checkup before they leave for East Timor. Aid workers say local authorities have been very helpful in establishing the center. The refugee agency reports nearly three- thousand people have been repatriated to East Timor from West Timor and the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, over the past week. (Signed) NEB/LS/GE/JP 19-Oct-1999 14:14 PM EDT (19-Oct-1999 1814 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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