UNTAET Humanitarian Pillar - Situation Report: East Timor Crisis 13-14 Jan 2000

General: Access to the Ambeno enclave by humanitarian agencies continues to be adversely affected by the limited seating availability on UNTAET helicopters. In particular, medical professionals have not been able to travel to Oekussi to staff the general hospital. While UNTAET helicopter availability is unlikely to improve in the coming week, INTERFET fixed-wing support (Caribou) is expected to provide some transport assistance in the short term for urgent requirements.
Security: Tension remains high in the Bobometo area of Oekussi, with reports of ten militia crossing from West Timor and clashing with villagers at Saben. Two militia members, allegedly planning attacks against vehicles in the Bobometo area, have been arrested by INTERFET elements for possession of a hand grenade.

INTERFET has imposed security restrictions in the area.

Returns: On Thursday 13 January, 233 persons crossed from Atambua to Batugade and 111 persons entered from Betun to Suai. Today, 14 January, 227 persons crossed from Atambua to Batugade. In secondary movements, IOM organised the return of 79 persons from Batugade to Dili and 24 persons from Dili to Liquica. An additional 130 persons were moved from Dili to Lospalos with the assistance of INTERFET assets. Currently, 165 persons remain at the Dili transit centre awaiting secondary movement to Lospalos, Aileu, Ainaro, Ermera, Manatuto and Same. The total number of returnees is now 129,259.

Logistics: Over the last two days, WFP land convoys delivered a total of 87 MTs of rice and 79 MTs of maize to Gleno, Aileu, Maliana and Liquica. The WFP helicopter transported 42.1 MTs of mixed commodities to remote locations in Bobonaro and Ermera districts.

Food: Following unconfirmed CNRT reports of deaths from starvation in Bobonaro district (15 in November, 24 in December), a WFP and CNRT team made an assessment visit to several villages in Lolotoe sub- district. Deaths by starvation could not be confirmed, with CNRT representatives acknowledging that existing illness. While some food shortages were evident - compounded by the recent arrival of returnees from Suai, the situation is not assessed as critical. Significant numbers of livestock were noted in the area, and the local maize crops were in good condition -- with many plants up to five feet tall. As this crop will not be ready for another six weeks, food aid is being delivered to the area. Today, 7 MT comprising of rice, maize and oil was delivered to the village of Mape, with further deliveries to Gildapil and Lebos scheduled over the weekend. A full ration of cereals and supplementary foods, totalling 70 MT, is planned for the sub-district's population of approximately 7,500. Poor roads have hampered some previous food distribution, but improved vehicles are expected to be available in the next week.

Health: In early January, two possible polio cases were noted in Dili. Confirmatory serology testing is being conducted in Brisbane. While both affected children have recently returned from West Timor, initial investigations suggest that they probably contracted the disease in East Timor. A program to vaccinate every child aged up to five years in East Timor will now be undertaken, beginning in Dili next week with the currently available 10,000 vaccines. An outbreak of acute jaundice syndrome has also been noted in Dili, and dengue fever is still a concern.

Shelter and Reconstruction: UNHCR reports that 16,000 lengths of timber, 21,500 sheets of roofing iron and 2,000 bags of cement are currently in the warehouse for distribution to Peace Winds Japan and GOAL. Two Rubbhalls were erected in Suai to accommodate 200 MTs of shelter materials, which will be delivered next week. Additionally, four warehouses are under construction in Com, Lautem district. 45 MTs of CARE shelter materials are currently en-route from Kupang, which will be used in the reconstruction of nearly 50 homes in Covalima district.