/** reg.easttimor: 2942.0 **/

** Topic: Militias attack UN refugee officials inside W. Timor camp **
** Written 3:04 AM Sep 8, 1999 by Joyo@aol.com in cdp:reg.easttimor **
Subject: Militias attack UN refugee officials inside W. Timor camp

Australian Broadcasting Corp. Tuesday, 8 September 1999


Militias attack refugee officials inside Kupang camp

In West Timor, a pro-Jakarta group attacked staff from the refugee agency, the UNHCR.

Surrounded by local government officials, police and military personnel, the delegation was set upon by angry refugees.

Ginny Stein reports from Kupang.

At least 50,000 refugees are believed to have crossed the border into West Timor, although none are quite sure of the exact number. The main reason: the military and militias' refusal to allow the media or humanitarian agencies access.

Breaking down that barrier West Timor's governor extended an invitation to officials from the UN's refugee agency, the UNHCR.

Leading the delegation, Asia-Pacific's Francois Foinneau who flew in from Geneva. At a camp on the outskirts of the capital, they came to talk with some of the 3,500 people who'd sought shelter in a bus terminal. Inside the camp, loyalties are on display. Refugees still clothed in the colours of militia gangs, some still armed with machetes stand guard inside the camp.

Fifteen minutes into the visit, the delegation was attacked. Amidst a hail of stones, they fled to their vehicle only to be pounded once more as they cowered.

The delegation immediately canceled a planned visit to investigate reports that more than 50,000 have now crossed into West Timor to escape the militias' violence.

A spokesman for West Timor's governor last night said he regretted the violence displayed towards the visiting UN delegation. But in an ominous warning, he said tensions in West Timor are running high and no guarantees of safety can be made.