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 past three days, IOM has helped a total of 909 displaced East Timorese to return home. Despite threats by the Indonesian government to withhold food aid to the West Timor camps from today, there has been no significant increase in the number of people returning to East Timor this week.
Today, Friday 31 March, an IOM land convoy repatriated 75 people from the West Timor city of Atambua to the border town of Batugade. Secondary movements from Dili included 89 people to Ermera, 21 to Viqueque, 12 to Baucau, 3 to Suai and 2 to Same.
On Thursday 30 March IOM transported 49 people from Atambua to Batugade. Another 21 arrived in Dili on an IOM-chartered flight from Sydney. Secondary movements from Dili included 216 people to Baucau, 83 to Lautem and 48 to Manatuto.
On Wednesday 29 March, 322 returnees crossed the border at Batugade. The IOM operated ship Patricia Anne Hotung also arrived in Dili from Kupang with 485 returnees on board. The passengers included a number of former Indonesian army personnel (TNI) and their families from Aileu, who are now staying in Dili's Carantina processing centre. The build-up of over 1,200 former TNI in the Carantina and Kupang's Fatululi holding centre is now becoming a major concern for UNHCR and IOM. Reintegrating this group into the East Timorese community is complex and time-consuming, and can only be achieved in small groups, resulting in increased tension and some overcrowding.
Returns: As of March 31, IOM and UNHCR have organized the return by land, sea and air of 112,720 East Timorese from West Timor, from other parts of Indonesia and from Australia. The total number of returnees now stands at 157,937.
Total returns by land: 58,558 by land from West Timor.
Total returns by sea: 35,282 by sea from West Timor and from other parts of Indonesia
Total returns by air: 17,971 by air from Kupang, other parts of Indonesia and Australia.
Funding: 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.