HC Deb 06 March 2000 vol 345 cc505-6W
Dr. Tonge

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what recent discussions he has had with the Government of Indonesia regarding the repatriation of East Timorese refugees; [112825]

(2) what representations he has received concerning UNHCR access to refugees in West Timor; and if he will make a statement. [112826]

Mr. Battle

We have received several representations about access to the refugee camps in West Timor for UNHCR and other agencies. I visited the camps myself on 19 January to see at first hand the situation on the ground. Our Ambassador and others from our Jakarta Embassy have also visited since then. Over 140,000 refugees have now returned to East Timor, but up to 100,000 remain. We are concerned that militia activity continues in the camps, but are encouraged by reports that security forces have recently been dispatched to ensure the safety of officials and aid agency representatives as they try to establish the wishes of the remaining refugees. While many of them may choose not to return, we will continue to press the Indonesian authorities to allow those who wish to return to East Timor to do so safely and securely.

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