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Witness accounts show pattern of forced removal

Witness accounts show pattern of forced displacement during East Timor violence: UNHCR.


24 September -- The first interviews with witnesses of recent violence in East Timor indicate an alarming pattern of well-planned and well-organized forcible removal of residents to other parts of Indonesia, a spokesman with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today in Geneva.

The testimonies show that there was a clear pattern of separation of families, with members of the same families spread around different islands of Indonesia, UNHCR Spokesman Kris Janowski said, noting that it was too early to say how many people were affected.

Meanwhile, the relief operation is gathering momentum as nine tons of plastic sheeting and medical kits for 30,000 people were airlifted to Dili. Two truckloads of supplies were immediately taken to Dare, where there are an estimated 67,000 displaced people. A barge is also arriving from Darwin, Australia, with other supplies.

A four-member UNHCR team is headed for West Timor together with representatives of other UN agencies and the Indonesian Government to set up operations for the neighbouring province. International access to West Timor's overcrowded camps, often ruled by anti-independence militias, is absolutely crucial for providing relief and protection to the people in the camps and ensuring that all those who want to go back to East Timor will be allowed to do so, Mr. Janowski said.


ENDS

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