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UNHCR Briefing Notes: Northern Caucasus, Timor

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This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. Quoted text from this briefing note may be attributed to the UNHCR spokesperson named below left
Kris Janowski

1. Northern Caucasus

Over the past few days, the trickle of people leaving Chechnya has dried up while the number of those going back to Chechnya has increased. On Wednesday, some 700 persons went back to Chechnya - the highest daily return figure since last December. The day before, 260 people went back to Grozny's Oktryabski and Staropromislovski districts. On Friday (today), another UNHCR relief convoy with mattresses, blankets, tents and stoves arrived in Ingushetia's capital Nazran.

UNHCR has also supplied 150 tents to accommodate several thousand people recently displaced from southern Chechnya in a newly built tent city in the Ingush town of Karabulak.

2. Timor

On Thursday, UNHCR met with the Indonesian Co-ordinating Minister for People's Welfare and Poverty Alleviation, Basri Hasanuddin, on the March 31 cut-off for assistance to refugees in West Timor and local settlement for those who will opt to remain there. The meeting in Jakarta was extremely positive and substantive.

It is UNHCR's understanding that on the cut-off date, there will be a three-month transition period beginning April 1 to allow refugees to decide and take action on their future - whether to remain or return to East Timor. The government will attempt to keep providing basic services to refugees during the transition period but will request international support. What form this will take will be subject to discussion.

The government also will require support in integrating those who will remain in Indonesia. UNHCR has stated that it will help the Indonesian government in resettling refugees who will remain in West Timor.

This document is intended for public information purposes only. It is not an official UN document.