Health screening for returnees to Dili and Baucau

East Timor - The UNHCR repatriation activity of East Timorese who sheltered in West Timor has continued after the first attempts to gauge the possibilities.

Word of the flights has been spreading throughout the country and hundreds of refugees are arriving in Kupang hoping to be allowed on the UN relief flights back to East Timor.

The first flights were on October 8. There were two flights taking 173 East Timorese back to Dili. The following day saw another two flights of 205 people.

There were no flights on the Sunday. Since then, there have been flights each day with a total of 12 flights until Thursday October 14. A total of 1,163 people have been returned to Dili.

MSF remains responsible for the health screening of the returnees. All flight passengers are brought to the Stadium in Dili where MSF has set up fixed operations.

The flights shall be continuing and the UNHCR has estimated that 60% of the East Timorese in West Timor wish to return home. If current figures are accurate, that would mean a total of 150,000 people to be repatriated from a total displaced, and now located within West Timor, of 250,000.

More displaced have sheltered on nearby islands.

There is an estimated 5,500 Timorese in Jakarta, Surabaya and Bali who will be repatriated on a collection of daily flights.

Estimations are that 8,000 to 10,000 can be returned per week, bringing a total of 70,000 to 80,000 before the full rainy season settles in. The remaining 80,000 would be resettled after the rains.

Additional repatriation is taking place from Indonesia. The UNHCR and the IOM (International Organisation for Migration) have started flights from Jakarta to Baucau. The first flight was October 14 with approximately 300 returnees aboard.

MSF in Baucau have been stationing the two mobile clinics at the airport to screen the returnees when they arrive.