UNTAET Humanitarian Pillar - Situation Report: East Timor Crisis 1-3 Jan 2000

Situation Report
Originally published
General: Operations are gearing-up following the holiday period, particularly in the shelter sector. To date, four vessels carrying shelter materials have arrived in Dili, with two ships currently off-loading in the harbour. Supplies are being stored in a large central warehouse within the Dili district. By end-week, four new rub-hall warehouses will be erected at the secondary distribution points of Com, Gleno and Suai. WFP is providing trucks to NGOs working under the UNHCR umbrella on an interim basis until more than 30 additional vehicles start arriving in mid-January.
Under the leadership of UNHCR, shelter agencies are drafting implementing guidelines. Criteria for choosing beneficiaries based on vulnerability indexing are also being established. Agencies have agreed that shelter materials will be provided on a priority basis to disadvantaged groups including widows, disabled, female-headed households and low-income families. NGOs are working closely with the CNRT and other local groups to finalise lists of recipients using these criteria. Three NGOs are currently operational, with four more expected to launch programmes by next week.

Security: In general, security during the holiday weekend was good although several isolated incidents occurred. On 1 January, armed personnel chasing wild cattle near Laktutus, forty kilometres south of Atambua on the West Timor border, fired shots at an INTERFET patrol which was approaching the group. No causalities occurred during the exchange of fire. On the same day, Falentil elements established checkpoints in Los Palos following demonstrations outside the power station. The checkpoints were dismantled by INTERFET forces without incident. On 2 January, two local groups became involved in a confrontation at the Baucau marketplace. Two people were injured and taken to the MSF hospital.

INTERFET and Civilian Police secured the area and conducted an investigation.

Returns: On 30 December, a group of 62 persons of Indonesian background who had lived previously in East Timor arrived in Dili on an IOM-chartered flight from Kupang. The group was taken directly to the Dili mosque. The next day, several hundred East Timorese protested outside the mosque, demanding the group's immediate repatriation to West Timor. During discussions between UNTAET, UNHCR and the CNRT, it was agreed that the group would be allowed to remain in East Timor on humanitarian grounds.

Although no organised movements occurred over New Year's weekend, the number of persons crossing spontaneously from West Timor into the Ambeno enclave border town of Bobometo increased significantly. On 1 January, 211 persons entered at Bobometo. Today, an additional 802 persons crossed. In secondary movements, more than 100 persons were transported today on INTERFET helicopters from Dili to Same. Currently, 134 returnees remain at the Dili transit centre awaiting onward transport to Same, Viqueque, Manatuto, Aileu, Atsabe and Baucau. The total number of returnees is now 125,390.

Logistics: The WFP barge, ET Carrier, left for the Ambeno Enclave today loaded with 100 MTs of maize, 100 MTs of rice and 15 MTs of rice seeds. Starting 6 January, the WFP helicopter will begin delivery of OIKOS rice seeds from Viqueque to Same. The bridge north of Viqueque is currently able only to support light vehicles. INTERFET will shortly upgrade this bridge to allow class-four vehicles to pass.

Food Distributions: A joint field team composed of the CNRT's focal point for food assistance, WFP, World Vision and the UNTAET Humanitarian Pillar will visit Ermera tomorrow to clarify food policy and agree on a distribution schedule for the large amounts of food supplies currently held in local warehouses. Discussions are on-going in the Food Assistance Working Group regarding the shift from general distributions to targeted distributions based on vulnerability criteria. In an effort to ensure that food assistance is linked to broader policies on agriculture, the sectoral groups on agricultural and food aid will be combined.