Subject: UNHCR chief Ogata to visit Jakarta, possibly West Timor
Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 08:43:29 EDT

UNHCR chief to visit Jakarta, possibly West Timor

GENEVA, Sept 17 (AFP) - The UN refugee chief Sadako Ogata flew off for Jakarta Friday to meet with Indonesian officials on the East Timor crisis, and may visit West Timor where East Timorese have poured in to escape bloodshed, her spokesman said here.

Kris Janowski said after Ogata's meetings in Jakarta, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees was expected to travel to Kupang, the capital of West Timor, then continue on to Atambua near the border with East Timor.

He said she wants to stress to Jakarta authorities the desperate situation of thousands of East Timorese forced out of their province by army-backed militiamen.

The militias have gone on a rampage since East Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence in a UN-sponsored vote on August 30.

UN agencies estimate some 150,000 East Timorese are in desperate need of food, and that 300,000 to 400,000 people have left their homes to escape the rampaging militias.

The first planes carrying aid to starving refugees flew to East Timor on Friday.

Two aircraft chartered by the International Committee of the Red Cross landed in Dili carrying food and medical aid.

Two Australian Air Force Hercules transport planes took off from Darwin with rice and blankets to be airdropped to the town of Ermera, south of Dili, where 20,000 displaced people were believed to be sheltering.

"We have contacts on site to receive the parachuted packages, mark off the drop zones and distribute aid, but no one from our organisation," World Food Programme (WFP) spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume said.

"As of Monday, we will begin the first 'snowdrops', which consist of two high-energy biscuits in each packet and which fall like snowflakes," she said.

Many East Timorese are reportedly hiding out in the hills and jungles.

"As we do not need to organise the reception of these snowdrops, we can reach areas which are much more difficult to access," she said.

The WFP, a UN agency, said it hopes to drop some 70 tonnes of supplies over East Timor.

It has launched an appeal for donors to contribute 5.6 million dollars in aid for the 150,000 East Timorese over a period of two months.


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