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Humanitarian Coordinator's Situation Report - East Timor Crisis 03 Dec 1999

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General: Several important policy issues with direct impact on the humanitarian operation have arisen during the past few days. These include rent for public buildings and employment of former civil servants, particularly in the health and education sectors. The National Consultative Council, which works in conjunction with UNTAET, is also being established. Agencies that have operated under the OCHA coordination umbrella, and are now operating under the UNTAET humanitarian pillar, are reviewing current coordination mechanisms in view of these changes.
Returns: The number of returnees remained low today with only 29 persons crossing at the Salele bridge in Suai. At Batugade, 107 persons crossed from Atambua and 119 persons entered from Haekesak to Balibo. A total of 219 persons entered the Ambeno enclave through the three crossing points today. An IOM-chartered aircraft transported 83 persons from Kupang to Dili. Secondary movements included the transfer of 130 returnees from the Soso transit centre to Kailaco in Bobonaro district.

Suai: With increased security, recent returnees are now being moved to home locations north of Suai town. UNHCR has escorted several community leaders from camps in West Timor to view the situation in Kova Lima and Ainaro districts. On their return, these leaders are expected to encourage increased returnee movements to East Timor through the Suai crossing points.

Logistics: WFP delivered 21 MTs of rice to Maliana, 64 MTs to Liquica and 30 MTs to Aileu. As part of the general food distribution which commenced last weekend, approximately 8,000 persons will receive a total of 100 MTs of rice, vegetable oils, beans in Atauro Island beginning Sunday 5 December.

Health: The weekly WHO epidemiological report of WHO reported 26 measles cases in Dili. Seventy-two percent of all consultations for the week involved communicable diseases.

West Timor: UNHCR's mass information campaign has been intensified in refugee camps in West Timor. The campaign has been launched to counter widespread disinformation, which has been one of the factors contributing to the recent reduction in returns. The program includes leaflets and radio jingles. Beginning 7 December, a video will be shown in the camps featuring interviews with CNRT President Xanana Gusmao, returnees and community leaders.

Following reports of high mortality in Tuahpukan camp, mainly among children, UNHCR is assigning field officers to each of the camps in the Kupang area. Other humanitarian agencies are continuing to focus on improving water and sanitation.

While action has been taken by UNICEF to improve WATSAN facilities in Tuahpukan camp, flood-prone areas in Neolbaki camp and southern Belu are expected to cause health problems. If a technical solution can not be found, the WATSAN group may consider a possible relocation of refugees to sites with improved facilities.

Tokyo Donor Consultation: Drafting of the document for the consultation continues. Two NGO representatives from Dili are planning to attend the mid-December meeting including one OXFAM staff representing the international NGOs and a representative of the local NGO Forum.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.