Subject: BBC: Timor refugees dying of hunger

BBC Website Wednesday, 28 March, 2001, 18:46 GMT 19:46 UK

Timor refugees dying of hunger

The refugees were said to be traumatised by last year's violence Aid workers in refugee camps in Indonesian West Timor have said hundreds of people are dying from hunger and sickness.

Jesuit aid workers have told the BBC that more than 300 people have died in just one of the camps and more deaths are expected.

The camps house more than 100,000 refugees from neighbouring East Timor.

They fled their homes - or were herded over the border - during the violence that broke out after a referendum vote for independence.

United Nations aid agencies pulled out of the camps in September last year after the murder of three of their staff in Atambua.

The Jesuits say the refugees are hoping for the arrival of outside help.

At the mercy of militia

UN officials in East Timor who have been interviewing returnees have said the camps lack food and water.

Supplies were also restricted partly because militia groups were still active in the camps.

There have been reports that the Indonesian government has been unable to control the situation in the area and that pro-Jakarta militia continue to exert a powerful hold over people in the camps.

Aid officials have said the militias have threatened to attack refugees wanting to go back to East Timor

The militia has been blamed for the killings of the three UN staff as well as the violence in East Timor during the independence vote.

UN Security Council have been calling for Indonesia to make a greater effort to disarm the militia.


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