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Humanitarian Coordinator's Situation Report - East Timor Crisis 08 Dec 1999

Situation Report
Originally published
General: Increasingly heavy rain is causing serious damage to roads and disrupting traffic in areas throughout the country. Several sections of the road from Dili to Aileu and Ainaro have been undercut and trucks in particular must travel with extreme caution. INTERFET engineers are repairing a seriously damaged culvert in the area of Dare. The road from Dili to Baucau remains in reasonable condition but immediately east of Baucau, the road is no longer passable for trucks. In Manatuto, the road south to Laklubar is deteriorating and the southern areas of the district will be inaccessible from Manatuto town in coming weeks. In the vicinity of Manatuto, a Falintil truck with 19 passengers ran off the road today and a passenger was killed.
In Viqueque, the road six kilometres north of the town has collapsed and is only passable with difficulty by two-wheeled vehicles. Thai Army personnel are undertaking emergency repairs. The road westward from the town through Dilor is also deteriorating rapidly. In southern Ainaro, rising waters threaten the bridge at Cassa, and movement from Suai to Same has stopped. In Bobonaro, the crossing point at Memo remains closed by the flooded Bulobo River. In Oekussi, the Tono River is now flooded, hindering secondary movements within the enclave. Within weeks, all other rivers in the enclave are expected to flood, isolating the crossing points at Citrana and Passabe.

Returns: The number of returnees entering from camps in West Timor remained low today, with only 325 persons travelling in an IOM organised convoy from Atambua to Batugade. A few refugees were extracted from a camp in Labur, 40 kilometres from Atambua, which had never been visited by IOM or UNHCR. Militia were present in the camp during the extraction, demanding that the refugees remain. Although only one family departed today, additional families are expected to leave the camp during the next extraction.

Two spontaneous crossings occurred in the Ambeno enclave-- 32 at Bobameto and 28 at Aplal. No organised movement occurred at the Salele border point. An IOM-chartered aircraft returned 236 refugees from Jakarta. In secondary movements, 13 persons were transported to Aileu today by IOM. At the Don Bosco transit centre, 674 persons await onward transfer to Los Palos, Atsabe, Same, Viqueque, Liquica, Ermera and Baucau. A helicopter provided by the US Army will transfer refugees from the transit centre to Atsabe and remote locations in Same and Viqueque districts. In Suai, approximately 5, 000 returnees are awaiting secondary movement to their home locations. Today, returnees were transported to Fohorem.

Oekussi: Rice distributions by Caritas continue. To date, approximately 300 MTs of food have been distributed in the enclave including 100 MTs in Oekussi town and 200 MTs to outlying villages. A food security assessment is presently being conducted under the leadership of Caritas with WFP, CARE, OCHA and CNRT providing staff for the teams. Preliminary results indicate that approximately 50 percent of the population may require food assistance during the next three months. Upcoming harvests are expected to ease some of the pressure on food security. As part of on-going efforts to bolster agricultural production, CARE distributed rice and maize seeds today to 600 families in Citrana.

Maliana: Agencies report that the population in Bobonaro district now totals 57,200, 60 percent of the pre-consultation figure. Of these, 15,000 people are resident in Maliana town. Few returnees have arrived in the past fortnight and the transit camp on the western outskirts of Maliana is almost empty with previous residents now repatriated to their home locations. The distribution of 10 kilograms of rice to each person in the district, based on comprehensive lists established by the CNRT, is almost complete. CNRT is particularly active in the education sector with 14 primary schools now open. World Vision has distributed maize seeds and hoes to approximately 6,500 farmers throughout the district. In a few weeks, rice seeds will be distributed. During the past three weeks, reconstruction committees have been established in each of the subdistricts with the active participation of the CNRT. Reconciliation has been a major theme at meetings, with the Church and CNRT denouncing acts of reprisal against militia and their supporters.

Logistics: After delivering approximately 200 MTs of food supplies including rice, soy beans, oil and seeds for the Ambeno enclave, WFP's E. T. carrier will travel to Baucau tomorrow with 160 MTs of rice, 40 MTs of beans and 20 MTs of vegetable oils. Following an urgent request last night, ICRC delivered food supplies by helicopter for returnees in Hatu Builiko.

The WFP airbridge between Darwin and Dili will close on 18 December. WFP may be able to arrange some flights during the holiday season depending upon demand. Negotiations are underway to reopen the airbridge in early January. The WFP helicopter will not fly from 20 December until 5 January although US Army assets are expected to cover helicopter requirements during this period.

Water and Sanitation: OXFAM reported that water interventions are on- going in eight locations including Dili, Liquica, Maliana, Same, Ainaro, Bobonaro, Suai and Oekussi. In Dili, OXFAM is working with a local group to repair the system in the old market. Efforts are also underway to improve drainage through a community clean-up programme.

Chairmanship of the water and sanitation coordination committee has been assumed by the UNTAET public works office which is exploring options for solid waste management. In Liquica and Suai, repairs to boreholes are complete. In Maliana, INTERFET has repaired 120 metres of the piped system. In Same, Ainaro and Bobonaro, OXFAM teams have recently conducted rapid technical assessments. In Oekussi, OXFAM and ICRC are working together to ensure water supply to the local hospital.

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