Subject: AFP: Repatriation of East Timorese refugees to resume on January 8

Repatriation of East Timorese refugees to resume on January 8

JAKARTA, Dec 29 (AFP) - The repatriation of East Timorese refugees from Indonesia's West Timor will resume on January 8, the state Antara news agency said Friday.

"On December 20, the Indonesian task force handling refugee affairs temporarily halted the repatriation because the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) had to rest for Christmas," said West Timor police spokesman, senior inspector I Wayan Dana.

The task force, which has been operating since September 16, has helped repatriate 807 East Timorese families, or 3,518 people, he said.

The repatriation has been carried out in cooperation with East Nusa Tenggara's Belu district administration, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and UNTAET.

Some 300,000 East Timorese fled East Timor in September 1999 when Indonesian military-trained militias went on a rampage in the wake of the territory's vote for independence from Indonesia.

The militia followed the refugees into West Timor when an international force arrived to halt the violence, and aid workers say they now hold many refugees virtual hostage.

Some 100,000 refugees are estimated to remain in the squalid camps in West Timor.

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