Saturday, July 10, 1999 Published at 20:01 GMT 21:01 UK
Militia terror in Timor
Anti-independence militias on parade in Dili earlier this year
By Jonathan Head in East Timor
Aid agencies in East Timor say at least 60,000 people have been displaced from their homes and an even larger number are in need of humanitarian assistance because of a campaign of terror by pro-Jakarta militias.
Access to many areas has been blocked by the groups, despite assurances from the Indonesian Government that it is capable of guaranteeing security until next month's referendum on the territory's future.
Most have fled from their villages. Some saw their homes burnt down.
Nights of terror
They speak of nights of terror, as the often drunk paramilitaries go from house to house looking for suspected independence supporters.
Those who found shelter in the capital Dili are lucky. In the west of the territory, tens of thousands are reported to be living in the arid Timorese bush beyond help.
The only aid convoy to get through to them was attacked by the militias last week. No others have made it through the barricaded roads which lead into the militia held areas.
Aid agencies believe that as well as the more than 60,000 people who have fled from their homes, a far larger number still living close to their villages may need assistance because they dare not sleep in their own homes or work in their fields.
The Indonesian authorities have suggested organising more aid convoys, but the agencies stressed that the situation can only improve if the government stands by its promises to control the militias.
Despite official claims that the problem is the result of clashes between pro and anti-independence groups, the agencies say nearly all the incidents of intimidation are attributed to the pro-Jakarta paramilitaries.
By next Tuesday the United Nations must decide whether to delay the referendum for a second time because of the lack of security.
Both Indonesia and the UN have ruled out a peace-keeping force for East Timor.