Subject: JRS: Returning Refugees in Poor Health

** Visit the Jesuit Refugee Service web site: http://www.jesref.org/

JRS DISPATCHES No.101 - 25 October 2001 Twice monthly news bulletin from the Jesuit Refugee Service International office

EAST TIMOR: RETURNING REFUGEES IN POOR HEALTH

The health conditions of refugees returning to East Timor is generally very poor, according to JRS teams who visit the returnees in their home villages. During September and October, about 2,000 refugees returned to Bobonaro, Covalima, Ainaro, Ermera, Liquisa, Aileu and Dili. JRS returnees project coordinator, Susana Barnes said: "In Suai, we have raised concerns with local and national authorities about the health conditions of returnees and the impact this will have on local health structures. In particular, concern was highlighted for TB patients returning to as yet unaffected communities."

Shelter and food during the first months of return was also a problem. "Both returnees and the local community are anxious about the lack of food for three months after return," said Ms Barnes. All have received the standard package supplied by UNHCR for returnees. In Ainaro district, JRS reports that at this time food supplies are depleted and there is no alternative supplementary food distribution on site for those in need.

Refugees from Aileu district have returned to find that their houses were burnt during the 1999 violence. Many are staying on the land they cultivate or making shelters in fields.

Despite the problems encountered on their return, returnees told JRS workers they were very happy to be home. Many returnees to Ainaro also spoke about continued intimidation in the camps and expressed their concern for their friends and family still in West Timor.

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JRS DISPATCHES is from the International Office of Jesuit Refugee Service, CP 6139, 00195 Roma Prati, Italy. Tel: +39-06 689.77.391; Fax: +39-06 687.92.83; Email: dispatches@jesref.org; JRS on-line: http://www.jesref.org; Publisher: Lluis Magrina SJ; Editor: Danielle Vella; Translation: Edith Castel (French), Francesca Campolongo (Italian), Nieves Delgado (Spanish)


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