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UN says more East Timorese will need help

UN says more East Timorese will need help as thousands return to capital

29 September -- As thousands of displaced people trekked back to the East Timor capital of Dili, the United Nations has raised its estimates of the number of people affected by the recent violence in the territory.

UN aid agencies are now planning assistance for 200,000 people in East Timor, among them 150,000 who fled or were forced to West Timor, and 50,000 who are elsewhere, mainly on other Indonesian islands.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today that the returnees to Dili include local UN staff members who were identifying themselves at the UN mission's former compound.

In West Timor, a UNHCR staff member went to Atambua, along the East Timor border, where a reported 100,000 East Timorese are being held in squalid, makeshift camps controlled by anti-independence militia.

UNHCR also visited a sports stadium in the capital Kupang holding some 700 East Timorese, mainly women and children, with 300 more sheltering under tarpaulins around the stadium. The agency said there was enough food, water and sanitation facilities and no visible military or police presence in the area.

According to UNHCR, one man at the stadium alleged that yesterday, four men believed to me militia came in two cars and took away a Timorese farmer from Dili. The reason for the abduction and the fate of the man remain unknown. It was the first abduction reported from the stadium, although news reports of kidnappings, executions and separations blamed on militias are abundant in Jakarta.

Meanwhile the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said it had suspended its "snow-drop" deliveries of high-energy biscuits to give pilots two days of required rest. The food agency added that it was moving its forward air operations base to Baucau, in East Timor, from Darwin, Australia. The Indonesian Government has also released more than 6,300 metric tonnes of rice from one of its warehouses to WFP, which is transporting it by ship to the territory for immediate distribution.


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