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Wednesday, September 8, 1999 Published at 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK


World: Asia-Pacific

Refugees flood into West Timor

An East Timorese family flees with their belongings

Shipload after shipload of refugees from East Timor have been flooding in to Kupang port in West Timor on Indonesian warships, passenger liners and ferries.

East Timor
According to the United Nations, pro-Jakarta militia have been forcibly deporting pro-independence East Timorese people to West Timor.

The deportations appear to be a bid to "reverse" the result of the 30 August ballot, which came out overwhelmingly in favour of independence.


The BBC's Humphrey Hawkesley reports: "Emotions are running very high"
But the BBC's correspondent in Kupang, Humphrey Hawkesley, reports that many of the refugees arriving in the West Timorese port are in favour of integration with Indonesia.

He met refugees who said they want East Timor to remain part of Indonesia and claim to have been driven out by fighting and threats from pro-independence guerrillas.


[ image: Thousands have been forced to leave their homes]
Thousands have been forced to leave their homes
According to the aid group World Vision Australia, refugee camps in West Timor are becoming volatile.

Pro-integration supporters who left the territory because of the result of the vote are camped out beside pro-independence refugees fleeing pro-Jakarta militias on the rampage across the former Portuguese colony.

The BBC's correspondent said that 60,000 have arrived so far; and the authorities are reported to be expecting more than 100,000 more refugees over the next few days.

The refugees are being met by senior officials, including the provincial governor, who is promising to feed, clothe and house them - and, in a politically-charged message, to protect them from the trauma created by the West in East Timor.

Hostility running high

Most arrivals in West Timor are being sent to the refugee camps, though some are living with friends and relatives.

Hostility towards the UN and the West is running high throughout the province.

A senior UNHCR representative has been attacked with rocks and sticks in one of the refugee camps and his car burned, despite having a government escort.

The UN says it wants to help, but in such dangerous conditions, that would be impossible.



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Internet Links


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East Timor Action Network


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