EAST TIMOR SITREP

Caritas Australia

November 3, 2000



CARITAS MEETING
 
  • Representatives from Caritas agencies in Norway, Sweden, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Dili, Caritas Internationalis and CAFOD, CRS, JRS, CORDAID and ICMC, participated in a meeting in Dare on October 28 and 29. The meeting focused on improving co-ordination between the national and international Catholic agencies in East Timor and to develop plans to better serve the needs of the East Timorese people through local partners.

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  • The seminar acknowledged the difficulties and challenges experienced by the local agencies operating in the emergency and transitional administration period. Key recommendations form the meeting included a future partnership seminar to further explore participation and joint decision making amongst all partners; and an ongoing commitment by those agencies operational in East Timor to explore mechanisms to improve co-ordination.

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    GENERAL SITUATION
     

  • Independence leader Xanana Gusmao has been elected as president of the territory’s first UN-appointed legislature. The ET National Council consists of 36 members representing districts, community and religious groups and political parties. The vice president is Milena Pires.

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  • The first rains of the season have begun but as yet there has not been enough rain to have an impact on roads etc.

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    Security

  • UN peacekeepers killed a militiaman on October 24 in a fire-fight that took place some 6kms from Suai in which a UNPKF patrol encountered three armed pro-Jakarta fighters shortly after dark. On October 6, PKF shot dead an armed militia man in Cova Lima. The man was fully armed and combat ready.

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  • Indonesia abandoned its deadline for disarming pro-Jakarta militias in West Timor. This move represents a significant setback to international demands that law and order be restored and militias disarmed before UN aid workers can return to West Timor.

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  • The United Nations has announced that a seven member UN Security Council delegation will visit the region from Nov. 9-18. Media reports said the mission would review the UN interim administration in East Timor and also monitor Indonesia’s implementation of Security Council resolution related to the killing last month of three UNHCR staff in West Timor. The resolution called on the Jakarta government to disarm and disband militias that have been terrorizing refugees, restore law and order, ensure security in the refugee camps and prevent incursions into East Timor.

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    SOA ACTIVITIES

    Returnees and the Tasi Tolu Transit Centre, Dili
     

  • Organized voluntary repatriations continue slowly, with 128 returnees arriving at the Tasi Tolu Transit Centre in Dili during October. 74 of these came via Kuala Lumpur on an IOM-chartered aircraft (they came from Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia).

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  • Some 642 refugees have spontaneously repatriated in October (as at Oct. 27). In addition a group of 121 people crossed into Oecussi at the end of October with another eight families following. All of the returnees are originally from Passabe in the enclave, and they crossed over at Passabe. Caritas Australia assisted with the transport of these returnees to their homes. The returnees reported that they only had rice and water in the camps from which they came.

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  • UNTAET radio expected to have transmitters operational in Maliana, Suai and Oecussi by the end of October. A mountain-top transmitter will soon be installed in Balibo that should ensure that UNTAET’s radio transmissions reach nearly all the refugee-affected areas of West Timor.

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    Oecussi Enclave

    General

  • The first rain fell in Oecussi on October 12, a little earlier than expected.

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  • There is still some confusion over when the passenger ferry service between Oecussi and Dili will begin operation and the details of how it will operate remain unclear.

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    Food Security

  • Vegetable Seed: Women’s groups in 62 selcoms have received a distribution of vegetable seeds. Over ten varieties of seeds were given to each of the groups.

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  • Vulnerable Group Feeding and Geographic Vulnerable Group Feeding: This program continues as usual with a few additional selcoms receiving support.

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  • Food for Work : Caritas Australia continues the distribution of food for this program which is operating across the enclave.

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  • World Food Program: WFP has expressed its intention to remain operational in East Timor for another four to five years. The agency will continue to operate under EMOP (emergency Operations) status for 2001 as this will allow flexibility in responding to food needs. There will then follow a PRRO (Protracted relief and rehabilitation operation). Following this phase, through 2003/4 will be a very targeted, development phase of operation.

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    Shelter

  • Over 500 housing kits have now been distributed widely to the more remote areas of the enclave. At least 200 of these kits have begun or completed construction.

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  • WFP provided helicopter transportation for 35 shelter kits to villages which are inaccessible by road. The Humanitarian Pillar (HAER) has also expressed their intention to provide helicopter support for distribution of the Caritas kits.

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  • Reroofing of teacher’s houses and other community buildings has commenced.

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    OTHER ACTIVITIES

    Crimes Evidence Training Program (CETP)
     

  • The two-day Training for Local NGOs dealing with Sexual Assault was conducted in Dili in October.  Thirty-five participants were involved in the highly successful workshop, which was jointly organised, by Caritas Australia and Fokupers.

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  • As part of the support to the local NGOs engaged in human rights activities, visits have been made by the Caritas Australia legal adviser to Baucau and Maliana.

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  • At the request of the NGO Forum, the legal adviser has also provided comment on two draft pieces of legislation: one on political parties, the other on prisons.

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  • Caritas Australia is assisting the Justice and Peace Commission in Baucau in the production of a video. The video will be as a tool for civic education and will feature the history of East Timor and future goals from the Church’s perspective. The video will be produced in both Tetum and English.

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    VISITORS in October:

    Jack de Groot, National Director, Caritas Australia
    Margaret McCafferty, Program Manager, Caritas Australia
    Catherine Chalk, AUSTCARE
    Visiting members of the CI network (see Minutes of meeting)