Over the last three days, IOM has helped a total of 1,277 displaced East Timorese to return home from West Timor. Today, Friday 25 February, an IOM land convoy plans to repatriate another 426 people from the West Timor city of Atambua to the border town of Batugade. The Atambua / Batugade convoys have been dogged with security concerns this week, following attacks on IOM and UNHCR staff and vehicles on Monday and Tuesday. The Indonesian military and police have now provided increased security for the convoys, and there have been no further attacks, but this has resulted in some delays.
Due to the increased tension in Atambua, the UN / IOM-facilitated family reunion at Motaain scheduled for Saturday 26 February will not take place. Security concerns on the part of the TNI, due to militia threats to disrupt the event if 30 people who crossed to the East last Saturday were not accounted for, played a part in the decision. UNHCR is investigating the whereabouts of these people and IOM hopes that the events will resume as soon as the issue is resolved.
On Thursday 24 February, IOM transported 586 people from the Atambua camps to Batugade. Another 140 people arrived in Dili from Sydney aboard two IOM-chartered flights. Under the terms of IOM's mandate, all these people joined the two flights voluntarily.
On Wednesday 23 February 461 people travelled on IOM trucks from Atambua to Batugade. Another 92 arrived in Dili aboard the IOM-operated ship the Patricia Anne Hotung. A further 62 people arrived by air from Darwin.
Secondary IOM movements of returnees from Dili's Carantina processing centre over the past three days included 24 people to Los Palos and 10 to Aileu today, and 12 people to Ermera and 7 to Atsabe on Wednesday.
As of February 25, IOM and UNHCR have organised the return by land, sea and air of 94,439 East Timorese from West Timor, from other parts of Indonesia and from Australia. The total number of returnees now stands at 142,316.
Total returns by land: 47,528 by land from West Timor.
Total returns by sea: 33,742 by sea from West Timor and from other parts of Indonesia
Total returns by air: 7,793 from Kupang to Dili, 3,937 from the rest of Indonesia , 1,123 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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