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UN agency holds talks with Indonesia on return of East Timorese refugees

UN agency holds talks with Indonesia on return of East Timorese refugees

The United Nations Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees arrived in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta today for talks with senior government officials about the return of 80,000 East Timorese refugees who fled the post-referendum violence of 1999.

In a statement, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said Jessen-Petersen, who is accompanied by the agency's director for Asia and the Pacific, Jean-Marie Fakhouri, would also travel to West Timor for meetings with local authorities in the provincial capital, Kupang, and to UN-administered East Timor for talks with the head of the UN Mission there and newly elected local officials.

The Assistant High Commissioner is the highest-ranking UNHCR official to visit Indonesia since three of the agency's workers were murdered by an angry mob in the West Timor town of Atambua on 6 September 2000. The murder shocked the international community and prompted the UN to withdraw its entire staff from West Timor.

In another development, around 2,000 people in the East Timorese enclave of Oecussi in West Timor attended a memorial service yesterday in honour of the victims of the Tumin massacre, in which some 70 people were killed on 8 and 9 September 1999.

Meanwhile, earlier this morning, a truck carrying Fijian soldiers from the New Zealand battalion of UN peacekeepers overturned 3 kilometres east of Taroman in East Timor. One soldier was killed and 11 other Fijian soldiers sustained a variety of injuries.

The casualties were evacuated to the Slovakian Field Surgical Team facility at Suai for immediate treatment. A formal medical assessment is being conducted on the personnel that sustained injuries.