More than 1,000 refugees have returned to East Timor during the first 10 days of May, bringing the total repatriation figure to well over 205,000 refugees.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) believes that further large numbers of refugees may decide to return in the final days before East Timor's 20 May independence, and is taking various measures along the border to cope with another large-scale influx.
UNHCR officials today issued a new appeal for refugees to return before independence, and reiterated to potential returnees that the border is open, and will remain open, before, during and after East Timor's independence.
UNHCR officials in Dili last week announced that more than 6,000 refugees had returned to East Timor in April, the highest monthly return since March 2000. Many of these refugees cited Xanana Gusmão's victory in the 14 April presidential election and East Timor's imminent independence as their main reasons for returning home.