Subject: JP: Disease, malnutrition claim lives of 100 East Timor refugees
Date: Sun, 01 Aug 1999 11:25:07 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Jakarta Post 29 July 1999

Disease, malnutrition claim lives of 100 East Timor refugees

DILI, East Timor (JP): At least 100 displaced people in Faulara hamlet, some 50 kilometers west of here, have died of various contagious diseases and malnutrition since January, a United Nations mission official said on Wednesday.

Yasuhiro Ueki, spokesman for the UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), told a media conference here that the finding was reported by the UN High Commission for Refugees mission who last week visited the area, where 3,600 people are taking shelter.

He said malaria and tuberculosis were among the diseases attributable to the fatalities.

A joint team involving UNAMET, UNHCR, the UN Emergency Fund, the International Commission for the Red Cross and the Indonesian government, had planned to undertake a humanitarian mission to the refugee centers in the village next week, Ueki said.

Internally displaced people have become an outstanding concern for the UN other than security problems in the run-up to the popular consultation, which is scheduled for late August.

Thousands of people fled their homes in wake of the violence which flared up following the government's decision in January to let go of East Timor if people in the former Portuguese colony rejected its offer of wide- ranging autonomy.

Ueki said the joint team were taking steps to move thousands of refugees back to their homes, in order to allow them to register for the direct ballot. Some 2,200 refugees in Faulara are eligible to vote but none of them have signed up for the vote.

He said of the 4,000 more displaced people sheltering here, 1,400 of them were returned to their homes in Bobonaro, 140 kilometers west of here, on Wednesday.

The refugees bound for Bobonaro will make a stopover in Maliana for two or three days to wait until the security condition enables them to enter their villages, Jaime, a former village head in Bobonaro, said.

Carried by open trucks and guarded by police, some 550 refugees from Same, 140 kilometers south of here, also left for home. Displaced people from Ainaro and Covalima, totaling around 800, are expected to be resettled on Saturday.

Ueki said UNAMET officials and its Indonesian government task force for popular consultation counterparts met on Tuesday to discuss a plan to move 6,000 refugees in Atambua, East Nusa Tenggara, to their homes.

Separately, from Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, Antara quoted Governor Piet Tallo as saying that a total of 1,091 teachers fleeing violence in East Timor were now being sheltered in his province.

"Maybe we can arrange to have them serve here instead," Piet said.

Of the group, 514 are elementary school teachers and 577 are junior and senior high school teachers.

In addition, dozens of university students were transferred to colleges in Kupang, the news agency said.


Meanwhile, a poll monitoring body described pervasive fear of violence among residents, concluding that security was still too poor for the popular consultation to take place.

Coordinator of the Independent Committee for Direct Ballot Monitoring (Kiper) Yeni Rosa Damayanti cited rampant intimidation, particularly in the western part of the province. This, she said, posed a threat to the principle of a fair and free ballot.

"Although voter registration in general ran smoothly so far...we particularly note that the process went on in the absence of freedom from fear, which is actually the most important requirement for a free and fair ballot," Yeni said.

Citing an example, Yeni said that people in villages in Covalima, Ainaro, Bobonaro, Liquica and Ermera had been forced to hoist the republic's red and white flags everyday.

"(This) is a violation against the freedom of expression, which becomes the objective of the coming direct vote," Yeni said.

It was the first report published by the domestic observers since they start working since the beginning of voter registration on July 16. The monitoring involved 758 volunteers covering 137 out of 195 registration centers across the province.

Half of an estimated 400,000 eligible voters had signed up for the direct ballot.

Yeni said the poll watchdog had found the violations committed by government officials, military personnel and prointegration militias.

"We basically agree that the UN postpone the ballot as long as there is a clear deadline for the TNI (Indonesian Military) to settle the security matter. There must be clear sanctions also if the deadline is disobeyed," she said. (33/amd/swe)

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