Large-scale destruction evident throughout East Timor

East Timor - Security for humanitarian aid workers remains a problem in East Timor. Seven church workers, including two nuns, have been killed on the road between Baucau and Los Palos.

MSF has been aware that the current situation has limited security and has restricted operations to areas where safety is greater.

Military control has now been formally handed over to Interfet, according to the Indonesian Armed Forces. However the UN Major General Cosgrove has denied that a formal handover has taken place. He has said that security remains a matter for shared responsibility.

A contingent of 1,500 Indonesian soldiers will remain in East Timor until November, when a special Indonesian Government Assembly is due to ratify the results of the independence referendum.

According to an OCHA report, there are approximately 3,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Baucau and the highest humanitarian priority is supplying of water. Security and humanitarian conditions in Baucau are reported as being good. Travelling to the town is another matter. The OCHA team went there under escort by Interfet.

OCHA reports the town is in good physical shape with about five per cent of the structures damaged. The airport is in good shape and could be used as a major distribution centre for relief operations in the eastern part of East Timor. This would also compensate for the lack of trucks and other ground transport in the region.

Transport may be an issue in the future. Reports are that the road between Dili and Baucau has been severely damaged to the point of being nearly completely destroyed. Along the main transport routes, numerous small villages have been destroyed, including Umori and Lalaia.

Destruction is also evident throughout most of the towns and villages seen so far in the western region of East Timor. Suai, near the West Timor border, is estimated to be 90% destroyed. About the only man-made object left standing is a radio mast flying the Indonesian flag. Ainero and Same are reported to have 60% of the buildings destroyed.

UNICEF has reported that all six medical facilities in the western and eastern sectors of Dili are still operational.

The refugee situation in West Timor has approximately 250,000 displaced people living in a total of 70 camps or living in local facilities.