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Humanitarian Coordinator's Situation Report - East Timor Crisis 09-10 Dec 1999

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UNTAET Humanitarian Pillar Situation Report East Timor Crisis
General: Field visits have confirmed the deterioration of road links throughout East Timor as the rainy season advances. The road north of Viqueque is now impassable. The town can only be accessed by helicopter or ferry at Biacu. In Lautem district, the road to the sub-district town of Luro is washed-out; and in Manatuto, the road south to Laclubar is also cut. In Ermera district, more than 50 percent of the population is living in areas that can not be reached by road including Atsabe where almost 1,500 people have returned through Maliana, many by foot. Road access to Same is also difficult with treacherous conditions along both the Suai and Maubisse routes. More than 54 villages and towns throughout East Timor are now inaccessible to vehicles. Tens more are expected to be cut off in coming days.

As lead agency for logistics, WFP is developing a plan to access these locations using the helicopters donated by the US Army. Agencies warn that additional helicopters will be required when the US assets are withdrawn. A road working group chaired by the UNTAET public works section will begin meeting on 13 December. The group will identify priority repairs and help to mobilise the resources necessary to halt further deterioration of the road grid.

Returns: On 9 December, an IOM land convoy transported 349 returnees across the border at Batugade. From Betun, 240 persons returned in an IOM/UNHCR-organised movement to Suai. An IOM-chartered aircraft carried 78 returnees from Kupang to Dili, and an IOM-chartered ferry transported 123 returnees from Kupang to Dili. In Oekussi, 125 returnees crossed at Bobameto.

On 10 December, 272 persons returned through Batugade and 443 from Betun to Suai. An IOM-chartered flight carried 77 returnees, including 13 unaccompanied children, from Flores to Dili. In Oekussi, 26 returnees crossed at Bobameto. At the Don Bosco transit centre in Dili, 501 persons are awaiting secondary movement to Same, Los Pa os, Atsabe, Suai, Liquica, Ermera and Manatuto. In Suai, 400 returnees await onward movement to Same which is currently inaccessible by road. The total number of returnees into East Timor is now 115,919.

As part of the "Go and See" program, religious leaders from West Timor are currently visiting regional centres in East Timor, including Baucau, Los Palos, Maliana, Suai and Ermera. At a meeting in Dili on 10 December, humanitarian staff from both East and West Timor discussed additional measures for countering disinformation in the refugee camps in West Timor. Although recent tensions in certain camps have eased, UNHCR still has only limited access to the more than 144 camps in the Kupang, Kefamananu and Atambua areas.

Logistics: The WFP helicopter delivered 22 MTs of foodstuffs to isolated locations in the western districts. Rice was also delivered for the first time to the remote location of Soibada in Manatuto district. A land convoy carried 30 MTs of rice and
maize to Gleno. In Dili, the off-loading of rice and maize supplies continues with 215 MTs moved to warehouses today. WFP has off-loaded a total of 964 MTs of food over the past three days. The WFP airbridge between Darwin and Dili will now be extended until 15 January.

Shelter: Sub-agreements are currently being signed between UNHCR and eight implementing NGOs. The first tranche of 500 MTs of shelter materials are due to arrive in Dili on 14 December. Discussions with local officials continue regarding the use of a large warehouse on the western outskirts of Dili. Final assessments are being conducted by agencies on the location and precise number of dwellings requiring repair or construction.

Seeds: The maize seed program has been completed with a total of 330 MTs distributed to 70,000 families. A further 100 MTs of bean seeds have also been distributed as well as vegetables seeds for 100,000 families. Preparations for the exchange of milled rice for rice seed continue. Beginning next week, the US Army-donated Mi-26 helicopter will transport seeds from Viqueque, which produces surplus paddies, to Baucau and other deficit areas. Agencies warn that seed production in Viqueque may be insufficient to meet the countrywide requirement of 200 MTs. Substitute seeds are being considered to fill the gap.

Baucau and Los Palos: Although unemployment remains a serious concern, most other aspects of life in Baucau have returned to normal. Market activity continues to grow and large numbers of children have returned to school. Electricity remains a problem with only two of the city's six generators functioning. The water system to the new town, on the upper escarpment, is not operational. MSF has just completed a measles campaign, inoculating 2,000 children in 11 villages over two weeks. WFP continues to support for food-for-work schemes aimed at community revitalisation. CRS will begin rice seed distribution as soon as paddies are procured from Viqueque. ICRC is continuing to support emergency programmes and is helping to trace thousands of persons separated from their families during the pre-consultation violence.

Recent tensions over employment of medical personnel at the MDM- operated hospital in Los Palos have improved with the appointment of new local officials. The humanitarian coordination committee will begin meeting regularly to agree on modalities for distribution of humanitarian assistance and identify priorities for a integrated regional plan for rehabilitation and development. IRC is continuing to distribute mosquito nets as part of its countrywide campaign and is also finalising a shelter assessment. Concern, CARE and ICRC are continuing to support food, shelter, seed and other emergency programmes in the district.

Visitors: The Swedish Ambassador to Indonesia, Harald Sandberg, visited Dili, Fataluluk and Suai in the period 6-8 December. Mr Alan Kreczco, Deputy Principal Secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration of the US State Department, also visited Fataluluk and Suai where he met with the local population and aid agency representatives.

Future Situation Reports: Future situation reports will be issued on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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