Subject: AP: UN. seeks $20.9 million for Timor refugee operation

U.N. seeks dlrs 20.9 million for Timor refugee operation


GENEVA (AP) - The U.N. refugee agency appealed for dlrs 20.9 million Friday to help complete the return of East Timorese who fled to West Timor.

The appeal covers the next six months, said Ron Redmond, spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. That amount would cover the return effort and resettlement activities in both halves of the island.

The agency said it hopes to resume its work in three troubled refugee camps shortly.

UNHCR's "ability to phase down activities in both East and West Timor significantly by mid-2001 will largely depend on the availability of funds to fully implement programs in the second half of this year," Redmond said.

Last week, the agency suspended its operations in three of Indonesian West Timor 's refugee camps - at Noelbaki, Tuapukan and Naibonat - following a new series of violent incidents there.

The agency is awaiting approval by the province's governor of a package of security measures - including increased military and police presence - before returning, Redmond said. A decision is expected after a meeting Monday.

UNHCR has long urged Indonesia to do more to improve security in the camps, accusing militia members responsible for last year's campaign of terror in East Timor of harassing refugees and spreading false information about the situation across the border.

An estimated 250,000 East Timorese fled over the border last year to escape violence from Indonesian troops and their militia allies who opposed a vote for East Timor 's independence.

The violence continued until international peacekeepers landed in East Timor on Sept. 20. Since then, more than 165,000 refugees have returned from West Timor.

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