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East Timor - Crisis Fact Sheet #24, Fiscal Year (FY) 2000



The rate of refugees returning from West Timor to East Timor remains low. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) attributes the reduced number of repatriations to lack of access to camps by humanitarian workers, intimidation of refugees, inclement weather, militia misinformation campaigns, and a reduced number of accessible refugees.

From October 8 through December 6, the U.N. reports that a total of 113,885 East Timorese have repatriated via organized and spontaneous means.

A USAID and International Office for Migration (IOM) team accompanied a UNHCR repatriation convoy from Atambua to Batugade on December 6. While en route, the International Forces for East Timor (INTERFET) and the Indonesian military (TNI) informed the group of a new border crossing policy. Apparently, as of December 5, the new TNI battalion commander is allowing only U.N. personnel accompanying refugee movements to cross the border. Additional information regarding this policy will be reported in the next fact sheet.

East Timor


Since IOM opened the new border crossing from Halilulik/Laktutus to Fatomean on November 29, approximately 1,100 refugees have entered Fatomean in organized movements.

On November 30, the first organized convoy from Citrana carried 70 refugees to the Ambeno enclave. An additional three organized convoys crossed at Citrana on December 1.

Harassment of persons transporting refugees in cars with West Timor plates is problematic. OCHA representatives have discussed this matter with CNRT officials in Balibo and with Government of Indonesia (GOI) authorities at the Motaain checkpoint.

Food and Non-Food Assistance

On December 6, an NGO workshop partially funded by USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) was held in Dili. Representatives from over 80 local NGOs and the CNRT discussed the relationship between East Timorese NGOs and international humanitarian agencies. During the meeting, participants agreed to re-establish as soon as possible the national NGO coordination body.

Through USAID/OFDA funding, CARE and Caritas are currently distributing seeds and tools in the Ambeno enclave. CARE also has arranged the use of a tractor to plough fields for maize planting.

The shelter sector remains a critical focus, particularly now that the rains are falling and many returnees continue to have only plastic sheeting and tarps for cover. To date, few shelter materials have arrived in East Timor. UNHCR expects to receive soon a delivery of 1,300 MT of shelter materials (timber, roofing material, nails, cement, and tool kits), followed by regular weekly deliveries of the same amount of materials.

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) are in the process of completing a food assessment for East Timor. The report is scheduled for release on December 17.

WFP reports that it has adequate food stocks in its pipeline to meet food requirements at least through April. USAID's Office of Food for Peace (FFP) reports that food-for-work programs would be beneficial for maintaining secondary farm-to-market roads during the rainy season, and that food aid could be used effectively for school feeding programs. (Note: INTERFET is taking responsibility for maintenance of the main roads only.)

West Timor


On December 2, according to the UNHCR field officer in Kupang, the local TNI commander indicated that he would be willing to discuss ways in which the TNI could separate the militia from refugees in the area's camps. In follow up, UNHCR, TNI, and militia representatives met on December 6 to discuss the subject in more detail. Additional meetings are scheduled for December 7 and 8 between UNHCR, TNI, INTERFET and local Indonesian officials.

UNHCR has arranged for West Timor-based journalists to visit East Timor, as a way to generate more accurate press reports about the conditions in East Timor. UNHCR continues to organize "go-and-see" visits for refugees who would like to see the situation in East Timor first-hand before making the decision to repatriate or not to repatriate.

On December 7, as part of its ongoing information campaign, UNHCR began using audio-visual equipped vans to travel to various camps in West Timor to show a videotape of Xanana Gusmao discussing the current situation in East Timor and encouraging the refugees to return home.

USAID/OTI has provided a grant to the archdiocese of greater Kupang for a media campaign in the camps. The archdiocese will produce 10,000 leaflets per week for distribution in camps in Soe, Spn, Kupang, Wae, Baki, Bicili, Kefamenanu, Atambua, and Alor. The leaflets will include information from press reports and radio news broadcasts regarding the security situation in East Timor. In addition to the leaflets, the archdiocese will distribute 100 radios to camp residents.

UNHCR reports that it is in the process of establishing a permanent personnel presence in each camp to facilitate information flow and monitoring.

UNHCR is unable to extract 792 refugees from Tuapukan camp who have indicated that they wish to repatriate. UNHCR continues to try to extract these persons on a daily basis; however, a highly visible and significant militia presence in the camp is intimidating the refugees from boarding UNHCR trucks.

IOM and UNHCR opened a new repatriation corridor along the West Timor border at Haikesak on December 1. IOM believes that several thousand refugees around Haikesak are in need of return assistance.

On December 6, a USAID team participated in an IOM- and UNHCR-organized extraction of 348 refugees from Haliwen camp in the Atambua region. This camp, which is notorious for having a large militia presence, houses several thousand refugees in need of repatriation assistance.

Food and Non-Food Assistance

The GOI has extended the December 4, 1999 deadline for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to refugees in West Timor to March 31, 2000. According to UNHCR, the GOI has informed them that the emergency phase of the disaster is over; therefore, refugees should decide to return home or transmigrate elsewhere in Indonesia.

From December 4-5, a 41-member team comprised of representatives from UNHCR, the World Health Organization (WHO), and other humanitarian organizations investigated an increase in illnesses at the Tuapukan camp, where more than 4,000 refugees are residing. According to UNHCR, local officials report 170 deaths in the camp since September, of which 32 are attributed to malaria and diarrhea in children under five from November 22 to December 1. According to the UNHCR field officer in Kupang, water and sanitation conditions in the camp are inadequate, with only half of the latrines functioning and the rest not well maintained. Furthermore, groundwater sources in the camp are contaminated and water delivered to the camp is untreated. UNHCR reports that the refugees in Tuapukan camp are disproportionately under-educated and illiterate, making them especially vulnerable to militia intimidation and difficult to reach through health education.

NGOs have expressed the concern that other camps that are less accessible and have little NGO presence could be in conditions much worse than Tuapukan.

A Catholic Relief Service (CRS) assessment of eight camps in the Kupang District suggests a significant prevalence of severe malnutrition. In response to this finding, supplementary feeding programs are being intensified in the area. Relatedly, an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)-commissioned nutritional survey found 11 percent severe malnutrition in children in five camps in the Belu District. OCHA reports that malnutrition appears to be linked to problems in food distribution and monitoring, resulting from access restrictions. The U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) plans to launch an additional nutritional survey in West Timor camps in the near future.

USG Assistance

USG assistance, provided mainly by USAID and the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) and delivered through local and international implementing partners, aims to meet the humanitarian needs of East Timorese in East and West Timor. USAID assistance is based on field assessments by USAID/OFDA and USAID/Jakarta staff, as well as information provided by implementing partners.

USAID/OFDA has authorized $12,387,950 in assistance during FY 1999 and FY 2000. This assistance includes:

- $1.6 million for the provision and transport of various relief commodities, such as humanitarian daily rations, plastic sheeting, blankets, and water containers;
- $165,000 to an Indonesian non-governmental organization (NGO) implementing water/sanitation activities at four sites along the West Timor border;
- $1.3 million to WFP for logistics and transport operations;
- $500,000 to UNICEF in support of emergency assistance programs in East and West Timor;
- $2,084,613 to CARE/USA for emergency assistance to East Timorese in both East and West Timor;
- 267,300 to CONCERN for the provision of shelter materials to 50,000 East Timorese families for one year; and
- up to an additional $6,448,087 million in grants to NGOs and international organizations (IOs) for humanitarian assistance in East and West Timor.

USAID/FFP is providing over $16 million in food commodities in response to the East Timor Crisis. This assistance includes provision of 4,000 MT of corn and 5,900 MT of rice, valued at $5 million, to WFP in support of its first six-month appeal to meet the basic grain (carbohydrate) needs of 360,000 people for two months. It also includes 4,500 MT of corn, 4,500 MT of rice, 550 MT of corn-soya blend, and 500 MT of soya beans, valued at $6,243,000, to WFP in support of its second six-month appeal.

USAID/FFP also has contributed 6,700 MT of Title II food commodities, valued at $4.2 million, to CARE for IDPs and returnees in East Timor. In addition, USAID/FFP is providing 1,200 MT of rice, valued at $769,000, to CRS for refugees in West Timor. Lastly, the USAID/FFP office at the USAID Mission in Jakarta has contributed $127,000 for the transportation and distribution of USAID/FFP Title II commodities in East Timor.

USAID/OTI provided $401,000 in funding to support the peace process and monitoring of the elections in East Timor. In addition, USAID/OTI is providing $183,700 in assistance to various local NGOs for emergency assistance programs; $50,200 to NGOs for human rights activities, training, and cultural programs; and, $5,825 to OCHA for a NGO Forum Workshop.

USAID/Jakarta's Office of Population, Health, and Nutrition (PHN) is providing $568,924 to expand and extend an existing grant with WVI for a food security and health initiative in East Timor. The USAID/Jakarta mission has provided $5,870 to Project Concern International for a health assessment in West Timor. In addition, USAID/Jakarta has provided $600,000 to the National Cooperative Business Association for primary health clinics in East Timor.

State/PRM has provided $5.1 million to UNHCR ($2.6 million), ICRC ($1 million), WFP ($1 million), and OCHA ($500,000) to assist these organizations in meeting the needs of East Timorese.

On November 10, President Clinton authorized an additional $30 million in funding from his Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA) fund to expand State/PRM relief operations in East and West Timor.

In early September, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) donated a total of 300,000 humanitarian daily rations (HDRs) to meet immediate needs in East Timor. The rations, valued at $1,275,000, were dispatched to Darwin, Australia, via USAID/OFDA-funded commercial aircraft. WFP and the international forces in East Timor (INTERFET) have airdropped 180,000 DOD-provided HDRs to date. No further airdrops are planned and the remaining 120,000 HDRs are being held in reserve by WFP for contingency use as needed.

DOD also transported Portuguese relief commodities from Lisbon to Darwin, Australia at a cost of $580,000.

The U.S. military and WFP reached an agreement on November 4 to transport food and non-food relief supplies to extended delivery points in East Timor via two helicopters until mid-November.

On October 27, the USS Pelleliu arrived in Dili to provide heavy-lift helicopter support to INTERFET for the transportation of military assets from Dili to other locations in East Timor. This ship departed Dili recently, after providing several weeks of assistance to INTERFET.

In addition, DOD is assisting INTERFET in intelligence gathering, communications, logistics, coordination, and airlift capability. Approximately 20 civil affairs personnel from Fort Bragg have been assigned to the Civil Military Operations Center (CMOC) in Dili.


Following an overwhelming U.N.-supported vote for independence from Indonesia, pro-integrationist militias in East Timor rampaged and plundered through several cities and towns in early September. Thousands of civilians were killed in the ensuing violence. There was widespread destruction of homes and private assets on the island, including U.N. and NGO offices and equipment. More than 350,000 East Timorese were displaced from their homes due to the violence, including approximately 200,000 IDPs who fled to the surrounding hills and jungles of East Timor. Although INTERFET has gained access and control throughout East Timor, the overall security situation in the East/West Timor border area remains tenuous due to the continued presence of militia there.


USAID/OFDA: $12,387,950
USAID/FFP: $16,212,000
USAID/OTI: $640,725
USAID/Jakarta: $1,301,794
State/PRM: $5,100,000*
DOD: $1,855,000

* As noted, an additional $30 million in ERMA funds have been authorized by President Clinton.

** This total does not include funding for projects by USAID/Jakarta to support NGO activities in Indonesia nor the $30 million in authorized ERMA funds.