Over the last three days, IOM has helped a total of 868 displaced East Timorese to return home from West Timor, from Jakarta and from Surabaya. Today, Friday 10 March, an IOM land convoy repatriated 204 people from the West Timor city of Atambua to the border town of Batugade. Another 18 returnees arrived in Dili aboard a flight from Surabaya. Secondary movements from Dili included 14 people to Ainero and 4 to Ermea.
On Thursday 9 March, 386 people arrived in Dili aboard the IOM-operated ship the Patricia Anne Hotung. Another 75 returnees were flown on an IOM chartered plane from Jakarta to Dili. Secondary movements from Dili included 20 people to Manatutu.
On Wednesday 8 March, 95 people were repatriated from Atambua to Batugade. Another 90 people were flown from Jakarta to Dili. Secondary movements from Dili include 19 people to Baucau.
Security remains a concern. On Thursday, UNTAET customs officers found two grenades, guns and drugs on board the Patricia Anne Hotung. Several suspected militia members who had travelled on the boat were arrested by CIVPOL. On the same day, an IOM bus carrying returnees to Manatutu was stoned by youths.
Last Monday, the UN Peace Keeping Force (PKF) raised the security rating of the entire border area to high, following a series of shooting incidents and incursions into East Timor by armed militia groups. IOM convoys now only move in daylight hours in border locations.
Under the recently established IOM Return of Qualified Nationals Programme (RQN), a total of 300 East Timorese Nationals will be assisted over the next three years with employment and return to East Timor from abroad. The aim is to fill positions in the public and private sectors, which cannot be filled with local human resources. IOM is currently liaising in East Timor with local employers including CISPE (Civil Services and Public Employment) to identify job vacancies. Through its network of offices in Australia, Hong Kong (covering Macau), Portugal and Indonesia IOM is working with East Timorese organizations abroad, distributing information details on the assistance the programme will provide. Candidates, who can be matched with available job offers, following approval for placement under the programme, will be assisted to return with their families. Upon return of the candidate, employers will be provided with a salary subsidy and job-related equipment materials. So far, one candidate has returned under the programme from Australia and has been placed as the operations coordinator for Timor Aid. An additional 14 job offers have been received by IOM from CISPE. These job offers have been sent to IOM offices abroad and are also published on IOM's website http://www.iom.int/easttimor/entry.htm
As of March 10, IOM and UNHCR have organized the return by land, sea and air of 97,524 East Timorese from West Timor, from other parts of Indonesia and from Australia. The total number of returnees now stands at 146,189.
Total returns by land: 50,029 by land from West Timor.
Total returns by sea: 34,399 by sea from West Timor and from other parts of Indonesia
Total returns by air: 7,793 from Kupang to Dili, 4,120 from the rest of Indonesia, 1,183 from Australia.
IOM has received support from the international community to fund its Timor activities. Portugal, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, Japan and ECHO financed IOM's return movements to East Timor totalling US$ 14,210,988. Now that the emergency phase is winding down, efforts are concentrated on post-conflict rehabilitation through a range of interrelated projects such as the return of qualified nationals, reintegration of demobilized combatants, mobile information and referral services, community based rehabilitation and migration management capacity building. These activities form an integral part of the international humanitarian communities' response to the crisis.