There is a continuing need to return displaced
people in West Timor to their communities of origin in East Timor, in order
for rehabilitation, reconstruction and development to begin. The safe and
orderly return transportation of displaced people is the responsibility
of IOM by agreement and in close co-operation with UNHCR.
Over the last three days, IOM has helped a total of 1,796 displaced East Timorese to return home from West Timor. Today, Friday 18 February, an IOM land convoy repatriated 687 people from the West Timor city of Atambua to the border town of Batugade. IOM also arranged for 18 returnees to travel from Dili to the Eastern city of Viqueque by Interfet MI8 helicopter. Another 13 people travelled by helicopter to the inaccessible mountain town of Hatolia , near Ermera. On Thursday 17 February 97 people crossed the southern Betun border to Salele in IOM trucks. A further 209 people were transported by Interfet's giant MI26 helicopters from Dili to the mountain town of Atsabe, near the West Timor border. On Wednesday 16 February 975 people joined IOM's cross border convoy from Atambua to Batugade. Another 37 people crossed in IOM trucks from Betun to Salele.
Tomorrow, Saturday 19 February, the IOM-operated ship the Patricia Anne Hotung will dock in Dili, bringing another 135 refugees from Kupang. Also tomorrow, IOM will facilitate another reunion of families split by the East Timor conflict on the beach at the Batugade-Motaain border. A second cross border reunion will be organized simultaneously at the Betun-Suai border. Both events, which are designed to improve cross-border information exchange, are expected to attract large numbers of visitors. Last Saturday's Batugade reunion attracted 13,000 people.
As of February 18, IOM has organised the return by land, sea and air of 92,374 East Timorese from West Timor, from other parts of Indonesia and from Australia. The total number of returnees now stand at 140,251.
Total returns by land
To date, IOM has returned 46,207 East Timorese by land from West Timor.
Total returns by sea
To date, IOM has returned 33,516 East Timorese by sea from West Timor and from other parts of Indonesia
Total returns by air
To date, IOM has returned 7,793 East Timorese from Kupang to Dili and 3,937 from other parts of Indonesia. A total of 921 East Timorese have so far been returned by IOM 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$ 13,710,988.
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.
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