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UNTAET Humanitarian Pillar - Situation Report: East Timor Crisis 16-17 Dec 1999

Situation Report
Originally published
Shelter: The first shelter materials procured by UNHCR arrived in Dili on 14 December. The shipment included more than 20,000 corrugated iron sheets, 4.8 MTs of nails, 5,000 MTs of steel bands and 100 tool kits. Off-loading of the vessel is now complete, with all materials stored in a local warehouse. In a major milestone for the humanitarian operation, the first tranche of shelter materials was despatched today to two NGOs, GOAL and Trade Winds Japan. GOAL, which is providing shelter kits in Lequido in Aileu district, will help communities begin immediate construction and repair. Trade Winds Japan, operating in Liquica, will begin implementation next week. The other six NGOs operating under the UNHCR shelter umbrella-Timor Aid, CCF/SCF, ACF, IRC and Concern--are expected to start construction in the next few weeks.
The aim of the shelter programme is to provide communities with the materials necessary for the repair and reconstruction of damaged homes. The communities themselves will undertake the design and actual construction. Communities will also designate beneficiaries on the basis of local priorities. In addition to providing the materials, the role of the international agencies is to facilitate reconstruction through technical advice and management.

In preparation for receipt of the materials, NGOs are finalising assessments and securing warehouse space. In an effort to give communities an idea of how materials can be used, Concern is constructing a model home in Los Palos district. CARE, which is coordinating with the shelter group but operating outside the UNHCR umbrella, has already repaired more than 100 houses in Covalima district using materials transported across the West Timor border. ICRC is also continuing with its shelter project in Manatuto.

Returns: The number of refugees returning from West Timor has increased this week. Factors contributing to the rise include UNHCR's increasingly effective counter-information campaign and a reduction in militia intimidation. Agencies expect that refugee movements will remain at current levels for the next several weeks.

On 16 December, 283 returnees crossed from Atambua to Batugade. In secondary movements, 72 persons were moved from Dili to Manatuto. Today, an IOM-chartered ferry carried 196 returnees from Kupang to Dili and 71 returnees arrived by air from Kupang. In organised land movements, 173 refugees returned from Atambua to Batugade, while 244 returnees crossed at the Salele bridge in Suai. An IOM-organised flight transported 14 passengers from Perth to Dili. In addition, 138 returnees were ferried from Dili to Oekussi. A new transit facility, known as "airport beach," was opened today in Dili. The centre at Don Bosco has reverted to its original purpose as a school. UNHCR, which will manage the new centre, reports that 687 returnees currently await secondary movement. The total number of returnees to East Timor is now 118,618, of whom 76,495 entered East Timor on organised movements and 42,123 entered spontaneously.

Logistics: With the assistance of the two INTERFET MI-26 and MI-8 helicopters, WFP moved a total of 55 MTs of food supplies to remote areas in Manatuto and Ermera districts. In organised land convoys on 15 December, 35 MTs of food assistance were delivered to Maliana, 35 MTs to Maubisse and 45 MTs to Liquica. On today's convoys, 30 MTs of rice was delivered to Maubisse and 40 MTs to Maliana. The WFP helicopter moved a total of 49.2 MTs of rice to Baucau and Uatolari in Viqueque district. The ET Carrier leaves tonight with 100 MTs of food supplies for the Ambeno enclave.

From 17 December through 27 December, the INTERFET helicopters will be out of service. The WFP helicopter will also be down, leaving humanitarian agencies without heli-borne cargo support for ten days. UNTAET will continue to provide helicopter services for passengers during the holiday season. The loss of the cargo helicopters presents particular problems for rice seed procurement. With the majority of paddies coming from Viqueque, which is cut-off by road, the only means of moving the seeds to deficit areas will be through the port at Beacu.

Health: The East Timorese Health Professional working group met last week to assess current health needs for East Timor. A joint working group consisting of WHO, UNICEF, MSF, INGOs and East Timorese health professionals has been created. The first task of the group will be to conduct a country-wide assessment aimed at determining the number of health professionals in East Timor. The group will also define minimum standards for health care provision and help to determine requirements for the eventual establishment of a Timorese Ministry of Health.

In its weekly bulleting, WHO reported that 6,269 patients were serviced this week in 28 health facilities (including mobile clinics) throughout East Timor. Seventy-eight percent of the reported cases involved communicable diseases including malaria, TB and respiratory tract infections. Measles were reported in Maliana, Liquica and Dili.

Education: UNICEF, in association with the CNRT and Northern Territories government, launched a teacher's training programme aimed at professional development of primary and secondary teachers. The programme, which will last for ten days, will also help to strengthen the teacher training institute outside of Dili.

West Timor: UNHCR showed the video documentary containing messages from CNRT President, Mr. Xanana Gusmao and SRSG and UNTAET Administrator, Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello, for the first time today in the refugee camps at Halewin and Labur near Atambua. The showings were well-attended and required no security presence from either the TNI or police. In a positive development, agencies report that the level of intimidation by militia appears to be waning in the aftermath of the announcement several days ago that the militia are now disbanding.