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UNTAET Humanitarian Pillar - Situation Report: East Timor Crisis 8-10 Jan 2000

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General: Since the last report, there have been two labour disputes involving IOM and WFP. Both disputes evolved from disagreements over salaries and worker benefits. The IOM strike took place this afternoon and ended with the intervention of CIVPOL and INTERFET to stabilise discussions that the workers threatened to turn violent. The basic disagreements were not resolved and IOM and its work force will try to meet tomorrow to work out an acceptable agreement. It is hoped that today's tensions will not be repeated. The WFP strike, which began late last week, was successfully resolved today.
The agreement that was reached included a pay raise, clear understandings of the workers' services and responsibilities, shift work schedule and transportation from the living areas to the work place. In an effort to extend the benefit of these successful negotiations, a meeting will be held among those IO and INGO with large local work forces to share their experiences in handing labour matters. Additionally, the meeting will offer a forum to air views and to provide input to UNTAET efforts at the national level as it formulates labour policy and management.

Returns: Due to Eid-ul-Fitr holiday, there were no border crossings from West Timor. On Sunday 9 January, an IOM-chartered ship transferred 460 returnees from Kupang to Dili. In secondary movements, 54 were moved from Dili to Lospalos with the assistance of INTERFET assets.

Today, 19 persons were transported on an IOM-charted aircraft from Darwin to Dili. In secondary movements, 7 persons were moved from Dili to Liquica. Currently, there are 170 persons at the Dili transit centre awaiting secondary movement to Same, Baucau and Lospalos. The total number of returnees is now 127,654.

Logistics and Food: WFP local employees went back to work today after the signing of a labour agreement. WFP began the loading of their vessel, ET Carrier, destined for Betano in Manufahi District. Land convoys headed for Maliana were also organised today.

With the transition from general food distributions to vulnerable and food for work programmes, the food aid coordination group, under the chairmanship of WFP, met over the weekend to define the guidelines for the Vulnerable Group Feeding programme. The main objective of the programme is to prevent a deterioration of the nutritional status of those persons/families unable to meet their food intake requirements due to limited access to food. It also aims to support vulnerable groups during acute periods of crisis until they are able to meet their food intake requirements. Vulnerable groups include disabled persons, the elderly, orphans/street children and female- headed households. Meetings will be held, in the coming days, at the district and sub-district levels between senior members of the CNRT, UNTAET and humanitarian agencies to identify vulnerable persons and families.

Shelter: The shelter-working group met today and reviewed the material quality issue associated with cement and shelter construction kits. Decisions on sourcing future procurement of shelter material will have East Timorese input. Another point of discussion dealt with the amount of cement needed for house construction. It was noted that the amount of cement varied with the rural or urban location of the structure being built. The idea of using cement for the production of concrete blocks for building purposes was broached.

It was suggested that concrete block production might be an appropriate QIP project. Four semi-permanent warehouses are in the process of being erected in the Com area. It is anticipated that Com will be ready to receive materials within 10 days. Warehouse space is being arranged in Oekussi for the storage of materials for onward distribution in the enclave. Shipments of timber will arrive this week and next week with the third week in January seeing the arrival of a shipment of mixed material that will be off-loaded at Com. A technical team from shelter agencies will meet with CNRT representatives to undertake an assessment of the tool kits that are currently used for house construction. The team's objective is to recommend improvements for future procurement of kits. The CNRT is holding a meeting of district secretaries from 14-16 January.

Time has been set aside for the shelter group to meet with the CNRT representatives to gain local insights into the management of the shelter program.

Correction: In the last UHP situation report (6 to 7 January), it was reported in the "Security" section that a Timorese person was killed as a result of an incident in Baucau. The individual was seriously injured.