UNTAET Humanitarian Pillar - Situation Report: East Timor Crisis 11-12 Jan 2000

General: In light of widespread unemployment and rising social tensions, agencies working in the food sector will continue with general distributions until the maize harvest in March and April. The decision to continue with distributions for the entire population represents a shift in policy. On the basis of the FAO and WFP Food and Crop Survey and other assessments, agencies were scheduled to launch a combination of Vulnerable Group Feeding programmes and food for work schemes on 1 January. These programmes, which target certain segments of the population, will be delayed until after the harvest.
In recognition of the urgent need to create employment, agencies have pushed forward implementation of Quick Impact Projects. District Administrators are being asked to produce a short list of top community rehabilitation priorities by the end of next week. Short lists will be drawn up in close consultation with the CNRT and other local groups. An Employment Working Group is being formed under the leadership of UNDP and the World Bank to develop labour-intensive schemes for immediate implementation.

Security: A series of security breaches across the border at the Ambeno enclave have prompted INTERFET to upgrade the current security phase from medium to high. An INTERFET escort is now required for travel within the three kilometres buffer zone. On 11 January, 30 young men, believed to be militia, crossed the border at Bobometo and apparently abducted one person. INTERFET is currently investigating the situation.

In Motaain, West Timor, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed today between INTERFET, TNI and UNTAET. The MOU defines the role of the UN Military Observers (UNMOs) and establishes 11 junction points for military patrols along the West Timor border.

Returns: On Tuesday 11 January, 51 persons crossed from Kefamananu into the Ambeno enclave and 74 persons entered from Betun to Suai. Today, an IOM-chartered aircraft carried 92 persons from Kupang to Dili and 94 persons from Darwin to Dili. UNHCR reported that 22 persons crossed from Atambua to Batugade, four from Kefamananu to Suai and 30 persons entered from Betun to Suai. An IOM-charted vessel ferried 361 returnees from Kupang to Dili. In secondary movements, a total of 20 persons were moved from Batugade to Balibo and Maliana. The total number of returnees is now 128,688.

Logistics: WFP land convoys delivered a total of 85 MTs of mixed commodities to Maliana and Manatuto districts. The WFP helicopter transported 36.9 MTs of rice to remote locations in Bobonaro and Ermera districts. On the basis of a work schedule agreed during last week's high-level joint CNRT and UN/NGO mission, WFP will continue food deliveries for the next four days to inaccessible locations in Ermera. The ET Carrier is currently loaded with 222 MTs of food supplies for Manufahi district. Supplies will be off-loaded at the Betano port for onward delivery to villages that have not yet received a general distribution.

At the request of UNTAET's administrative office, WFP will no longer provide an airbridge between Darwin and Dili for humanitarian agencies. A commercial carrier will cover the route beginning 18 January. Agencies are concerned that the costs of the route are prohibitive and will significantly reduce personnel and cargo movements.

Access for humanitarian agencies to the hard-hit Ambeno enclave continues to be seriously limited due to seating restrictions on UNTAET helicopters. During the past two weeks, tens of staff, including medical personnel, have been unable to carry out their duties. The only reliable source of transport to the enclave, which remains the most under-serviced district in East Timor, is the helicopter. Unless urgent steps are taken to improve access for NGO staff, agencies may be forced to reduce or close down operations.

Shelter and Reconstruction: Using ACF and CCF trucks, UNICEF delivered the first shipment of roofing materials for schools in Manatuto. The Philippine contingent will assist with reconstruction. In Covalima district, 254 homes have been rebuilt as part of CARE's shelter programme.