Timor-Leste

UNTAET Daily Briefing 22 Mar 2000

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Dili, 22 March 2000
THREE CHILDREN DIE IN BAUCAU EXPLOSION

Three boys were killed and one seriously wounded yesterday when they accidentally detonated what appears to have been an artillery or a mortar shell, uncovered at the grounds of a former TNI compound in Bermassi, a suburb of Baucau. Two boys aged ten and nine died instantly, while the third, aged four, died this morning at a Medicine Sans Frontiers hospital in Baucau. The fourth boy (13) is still in the hospital with serious abdominal and head injuries.

The group of children was playing near a run down TNI building when they found the shell and threw rocks at it setting the detonator off.

A subsequent search by UNTAET PKF found no other explosive devices on the site.

This is the first incident of its kind since the arrival of the multinational forces in September. There are numerous abandoned TNI installations across East Timor, but UNTAET PKF does not have a record of finding any left or discarded ordinance at those locations.

SIX MEN DETAINED OVER INVOLVEMENT IN SUAI CRIMES

The six men detained last Friday by the UNTAET Peacekeeping troops as suspected former militia are being held in the Civil Detention Center in Dili in relation to crimes in the Suai region, including the Church massacre on September 6.

The men, detained when they crossed the border in Covalima district, have been arrested on charges of attempted murder and assault for their involvement in the Suai Church attack.

On 6 September 1999, the Mahidi Militia attacked the compound housing hundreds of people who had abandoned their houses seeking refuge in the church because of militia violence.

The accurate number of victims is unknown. But it is believed that it can range from 40 to 100, including priests.

AUTOPSIES OF LOSPALOS VICTIMS REVEAL GUNSHOT WOUNDS

The autopsies performed on the bodies of the two nuns and other two victims of the Lospalos massacre revealed that they had gun shot wounds.

The victims were pulled out of a convoy going form Lospalos to Dili on September 25, and subsequently killed by the Team Alpha militia. Another four people were killed in this massacre, including two seminarians and a journalist. The autopsies of their bodies also revealed that they were all shot by a similar weapon and had cuts made by the same type of knife.

The bodies of the nuns were returned to the Canosians sisters today in Dili. The other two bodies are going to be returned to Baucau and Los Palos later this week.

The Human Rights Division and CIVPOL are going to exhume 10 bodies in Maliana tomorrow. The bodies, all belonging to victims of the September violence, were buried in separate graves.

REFUGEE RETURN ON THE RISE IN LAST SEVERAL WEEKS

The number of refugees returning from West Timor has been rising in the last several weeks, UNHCR reported today. On Monday 450 people crossed the border overland, yesterday some 800 people returned, 500 of whom left Kupang aboard an IOM ship, while today 400 refugees crossed to East Timor in Batugade.

Most of the 500 who returned arrived in Dili this morning aboard the IOM ship, were close and extended families of 59 former TNI members from Aileu. UNHCR and UNTAET are discussing final arrangements for their safe return with CNRT, the Church and Falintil. This is the first big group of former TNI members to return.

UNHCR reported an incident which happened on Monday when a repatriation convoy was stoned near Atambua. A vehicle was damaged, but there were no injuries.

Around 155,000 refugees returned to East Timor since the repatriation program organised by UNHCR and IOM got under way in October last year. Indonesian Government is conducting a census to verify previous estimates that over 100,000 East Timorese refugees are still in West Timor.

LARGE SHIPMENT OF MEDICINE TO ARRIVE IN DILI TOMORROW

Three shipping containers of medicine purchased by UNICEF and the Japanese Government and intended for public distribution in East Timor will arrive in Dili tomorrow.

The shipment, together with the second delivery expected on 28 April, will provide regular supply of essential drugs for common diseases like malaria, diarrhea and respiratory infections as well as specialized drugs like tuberculosis medicine. The pharmaceuticals will be stored on the premises of the Central Pharmacy Warehouse which will be opened in the first week of April.

This delivery of medicine will obviously have a very positive impact on the level of healthcare services provided in East Timor. For the first time since the popular consultation, healthcare providers will be able to order the medicine they need in a particular district, instead of the general medicine kits that were distributed in the past.

RAPID RESPONSE UNIT STARTS PATROLLING DILI STREETS

The officers from the 120-strong Portuguese contingent stationed in Dili will from today start patrolling the city.

There will be three patrols of five men each every morning and evening. They will assist CivPol in policing activities and, if necessary, respond to specific situations of concern to public security.

The Rapid Response Unit members have also participated in securing the family reunion in Batugade last Saturday, and will continue to be engaged there in the future.

The RRU members on patrol will carry arms. They will have handguns and access to short rifles if the need arises.

The second half of the Unit, the Jordanian contingent of 120 officers, is expected to be deployed some time in April.