MSF stands ready to return to East Timor
15 September 1999
East Timor - All MSF teams in Jakarta, Indonesia and Darwin, Australia are awaiting authorisation to re-enter East Timor to begin operations with the victims of the East Timorese crisis. There was a meeting in Jakarta today of NGOs readying to return to Dili and the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). OCHA will be coordinating relief activities from Darwin. Priorities in humanitarian care have been listed by the United Nations High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR) as:
Rapid emergency response into East Timor (food, medical, water,
Advocacy about the forced displacement in East Timor
Advocacy about the forced separation of men and women, independence and autonomy supporters in West Timor
Assistance to and protection of East Timorese in other parts of
An initial OCHA advance team will be ready to return to East Timor four to five days after the Security Council resolution passes. It remains unsure that NGO representatives will be able to go at the same time.
There is limited detailed information available regarding the conditions the humanitarian movement will face upon return. The UNHCR has reported that 50% of the houses in Dili are destroyed and 100% have been looted. The hospital and the community facilities in Dili have been destroyed.
In West Timor, there are approximately 141,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) with possibly another 100,000 to come.
There are clear needs for water and sanitation assistance. As MSF teams have not got access to the IDPs, there is no way the organisation is able to provide witness to their conditions and treatment.
There are another 5,000 to 10,000 refugees in Darwin. The Australians have things well under control however there may be an opportunity for the MSF team to offer assistance and support.