Subject: NGO convoy to bring supplies to E. Timor refugees
Date: Fri, 02 Jul 1999 08:57:30 +0000
From: "John M. Miller" <>

NGO convoy to bring supplies to E. Timor refugees 07/02/1999 Kyodo News

DILI, East Timor , July 2 --

A 12-vehicle convoy carrying food and medical supplies for about 4,000 East Timorese refugees under the guard of local militias was waiting for permission to depart Friday, a human rights worker said.

Jose Luis Guterres, deputy director of the Human Rights and Justice Foundation, said the convoy is loaded with 20 tons of rice, medicine and cooking utensils. It was planning to go to Sare village in Ermera regency, 80 kilometers west of Dili, where the refugees from Ermera and Liquica regencies have built makeshift shelters.

Guterres said the convey was organized by a number of organizations including the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the Catholic church-run Caritas- East Timor .

Orlando Soares, 72, a villager from Ermera, told Kyodo News at least four refugees at the village have died from hunger and disease.

Soares, who has been Dili for the past two weeks, said he was allowed to leave the village after telling militia members he was sick and needed to see a doctor.

Soares said many of the refugees are in desperate need of food and medicine.

The convoy's departure was delayed Friday by Dili police who wanted to escort the trucks on condition organizers obtain a local government permit.

"We will move on with or without local government permission because those people are hungry...but these officials just do not have sympathy at all," Guterres said.

Local and international organizations estimate that violence in East Timor has led to the displacement of at least 50,000 people. The U.N. Mission in East Timor has called the situation a "serious humanitarian concern."

A referendum to determine the territory's political status has been postponed to late August from the original date of Aug. 8 due to security concerns.

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed it in 1976, a move never recognized by the United Nations.

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