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 four days, IOM has helped a total of 788 displaced East Timorese to return home from West Timor. Today, Tuesday 22 February, an IOM land convoy repatriated only 184 people from the West Timor city of Atambua to the border town of Batugade. Over 1,000 people had registered to join today's convoy, but a militia stoning attack on IOM and UNHCR staff in Haliwen camp forced IOM trucks to leave behind over 800 refugees. On Monday 21 February, IOM managed to transport 434 people from the Atambua camps to Batugade, despite stoning attacks and an assault on an IOM doctor, was but on the shoulder by a knife-wielding militia man in the IOM truck marshalling area outside the Atambua police station. The attacks on IOM staff and increased tension in the Atambua camps follow violence that erupted at Saturday's IOM-facilitated family reunion at the Batugade-Motaain border. Stones were thrown at the event, which attracted some 13,000 people. Eventually the Indonesian military was forced to fire some 200 rounds into the air to restore order. On Monday another 36 returnees travelled from Betun to mountainous East Timorese border town of Lakmaras. On Saturday 19 February the IOM operated ship the Patricia Anne Hotung docked in Dili with 134 returnees from Kupang. Other major movements of the past four days included 118 people from Dili to Maubisse today, 50 people from Dili to Los Palos on Monday, 45 people from Dili to Ermera on Saturday and 38 people from Dili to Maubisse on Saturday. As of February 22, IOM has organised the return by land, sea and air of 93,162 East Timorese from West Timor, from other parts of Indonesia and from Australia. The total number of returnees now stands at 141,039.
Total returns by land
To date, IOM has returned 46,861 East Timorese from West Timor.
Total returns by sea
To date, IOM has returned 33,650 East Timorese from West Timor and 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.