Subject: Militia still control many camps in West Timor: UN

Militia still control many camps in West Timor: UN

DILI, East Timor, Oct 28 (AFP) - A UN official on Thursday said that armed miltia still controlled refugee camps in parts of West Timor and were preventing East Timorese there from returning home.

"There are still come camps completely under the control of the miltia, this is our problem," said Jacques Franquin, UN High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) spokesman.

Franquin said that East Timorese had been discouraged from leaving the camp because of intimidation by the militia and a lack of security from Indonesian police and the Indonesian armed forces (TNI) .

"The authorities of Indonesia in West Timor havn't taken a decision to deal with the miltia. They are still intimidating refugees," he said.

While there are about 250,000 East Timorese refugees staying in the camps in West Timor, humanitarian access has been restricted to about 50,000, he said.

He added that even in areas where visits are allowed, it is impossibe to monitor the situation.

"We have good access to the Kupang area, but we don't know what is happening overnight. Miltia don't wear uniforms."

About 25,000 refugees have so far returned to East Timor, primarily by boat and flights organized by the UNHCR and the UN's International office of Migration.

However the flow of people returning on foot has been severely limited by miltia intimidation.

While Franquin said there was now less evidence of cooperation between the miltia and the TNI, this had the potential to backfire by leading to isolated terrorist acts.

"We can also expect at any momemnt terrorist action by some members of the militia who are desperate because they have lost the support of their backers."

The bulk of the pro-Jakarta militia who laid waste to East Timor after the August 30 independence vote flowed across the border in the wake of the refugees before the arrival of International troops in the territory.


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