Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Date: 09 Aug 2006
Timor-Leste: Population Displacement OCHA Situation Report No. 15
This report is based on information received from the United Nations
Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL), UN Agencies, international NGOs and media
1. East Timor’s Council of State agreed on 31 July to a second 30-day
extension of the “state of emergency” first declared by President Xanana
Gusmão on May 30 to address the country’s spiral of violence.
2. There has been resurgence in violent activity in Dili over the
reporting week. The return of youths from the East of the country to Dili
might have acted as an immediate catalyst for trouble with westerners.
Tension is also fuelled by deep resentments regarding the continued
imprisonment of Maj Alfredo, the leader of the ‘Petitioners’ exacerbated
by rumour and insinuations. The UN remains at security Phase III.
3. IDPs in camps are targeted by the recent violence with groups of youths
throwing stones at IDPs or threatening them with knifes, machetes or sling
shots. Increased police patrols have made over 90 arrests over the last
weekend alone but security has not been fully restored. Some of the youth
seek refuge in IDP camps to attack people passing by the camps.
4. The International Police forces have commenced 24-hour Police response
patrols and operations within Dili, with the Portuguese Military Police
(GNR) rapid reaction response and also Joint Task Force (JTF) back up
available. There are currently over 500 International Police in Dili. The
police report that they are carrying out numerous arrests and that the
troublemakers have an increasing readiness to confront the international
police and are less and less afraid. There are fears that the violence
might continue at this level in peaks and troughs. Aid workers working in
camps have not been targeted so far.
5. It is estimated that about 72,000 people are receiving food aid in Dili
camps as of early August. It is not clear how many IDPs are still in the
districts with host families or in camps outside of Dili, including in
Baucau. There are many reasons why IDPs have not yet voluntarily returned
home. The principal one is that the IDPs do not believe that the root
causes of the conflict including land and property disputes, have been
resolved. Furthermore, damage to the residential areas, continuing
East/West divide, and rumours of illegal weapons still unaccounted for
adds to the sense of insecurity. Therefore only few have returned to Dili
from the districts, leaving part of the family (women/children), behind
while others overnight in IDP camps while accessing their day jobs in
Dili. Other families are awaiting more favourable conditions before they
return, postponing their movement even until after the elections,
scheduled for May 2007.
6. The aid community is concerned that the government might expedite the
return of IDPs to their areas of origin or might wish to empty some camps
from where youth groups are creating disturbances; the Humanitarian
Coordinator is strongly engaging with the Prime Minister and the police
force to ensure that the principle of voluntary return is adhered to and
that viable solutions are proposed to IDPs before they move out of camps.
7. On 4 August, Australia announced reduction of their troop strength in
Timor-Leste, which will not affect the military capability to respond to
police calls for assistance. Similarly, Malaysia is planning to pull out
most of its 200 troops by the end of the month.
8. On 2 August, President Gusmão held a meeting with 18 NGOs. The group
discussed how to bring together youths from east and west to assist in
reintegrating IDPs and creating dialogue across the country.
9. Three camps in Dili have been assessed as having very poor drainage and
sanitation and it would be extremely difficult to bring them up to SPHERE
standards before the rainy season. The Ministry of Labour assisted by
agencies is looking at proposing to the IDPs sheltered in those camps
three options: return home, relocation to other camps or setting up of an
10. UNICEF together with Concern, CRS, Plan, and local NGOs recently
concluded a rapid assessment of the water and sanitation situation in the
districts hosting the IDPs. The survey recommended immediate distribution
of water/sanitation and hygiene kits and jerry cans, regular water quality
monitoring, hygiene education and latrine construction works. As a follow
up, the government’s water and sanitation services were assisted in
delivering water to Baucau District, sheltering more than 25,000 displaced
people. In addition, 5,000 hygiene kits will be distributed to the
districts in the near future.
11. The ICRC and Timor-Leste Red Cross Society (CVTL) are helping families
in the capital and districts of Timor-Leste to locate their family members
they lost contact with because of the recent events. Notices have been
posted in camps, churches, and other sites where displaced families are
staying, to make them aware of the available Red Cross tracing service. 94
inquiries related to the unrest have been collected since April 28, 2006:
33 of them have been resolved to date and efforts to solve the other cases
are being pursued.
12. As the political instability contiues, aid agencies fear that
malnutrition might increase, affecting even more children. Before this
year’s crisis, Timor-Leste was already the most undernourished country in
the Asia-Pacific region: Almost half of the children below age of five
were underweight, with 15 per cent severely underweight. In order to
identify children who are malnourished in the current emergency, the
nutritional assessment of children under 5 years of age was conducted by
UNICEF in 52 camps in Dili district. This assessment found that 122 were
moderately malnourished and seven were severely malnourished. Malnutrition
was most common in the 6-18 month age group, with children in this age
bracket accounting for 65 per cent of all cases. UNICEF is now
distributing WFP corn-soya blend (CSB) and oil and sugar rations for
supplementary feeding of malnourished children identified in the
screening. Basic nutrition education and cooking demonstrations using the
CSB are being conducted in the camps.
13. CARE International in Timor Leste conducted Gender Awareness Training
for Camp Managers and volunteers in 24 Dili IDP camps. The purpose of this
training was to introduce a set of tools developed to support Camp
Management in understanding the gender dimensions of their work in IDP
camps and foster greater participation of IDP women and men in all aspects
of camp management through decision-making and direct involvement. Follow
up activities will include working with Camp Managers in the establishment
of participatory consultation mechanisms in the 15 IDP camps where CARE is
working directly as SLS, and the dissemination of the findings to all
Agencies and Organizations involved in the humanitarian response.
14. The government has indicated its commitment to support reconstruction
of around 1,000 houses and buildings completely or partially destroyed in
Dili and the districts during the April-May incidents. UNDP through its
project ‘Urgent Damage Assessment and Recovery Planning’ will provide
technical support to the government to carry out a reliable and unbiased
assessment of the destruction and to develop a detailed plan for quick
recovery activities. On the basis of the assessment, the project will
identify the most affected population and communities requiring priority
assistance, conduct a conflict resolution needs assessment and identify
appropriate sites for the reconstruction of houses and buildings as well
as relocation of the affected part of the population not willing to return
to their old neighbourhoods. Assistance to the government will also be
provided for development of a comprehensive recovery plan.
16. In a media statement released on 28 July, UNICEF strongly condemned
the manipulation of children after some of them were seen holding banners
in the front line of a demonstration outside Dili Police station. UNICEF
called upon leaders of the nation and also parents and the community to
take immediate actions to stop the alleged exploitation of children.
17. As a follow up of the interagency Rapid-Joint Assessment in the
districts, District-based Emergency Food Security Assessment will be
conducted by agencies working on food security during 8 August — 18
September to identify the key risks faced by households vulnerable to food
insecurity as a result of this crisis, taking into account the underlying
baseline of food insecurity and poverty. This will provide further
information on food security programs and policy choices. It also
contributes to the understanding of people’s current vulnerability status
and how this may change in response to various crises for contingency
planning. The survey aims to cover 1,380 completely randomly selected
households in 12 districts.
18. The Government of Norway has announced on 31 July a USD 1 million
contribution to the UNDP supported ‘Justice System Programme’ for the
period 2006-2009. The USD 10 million project aims to increase
institutional capacities in the governmental, judicial and prosecution
branches of the justice sector.
OCHA is in close contact with the UN Country Team and UNOTIL in Dili and
will revert with further information as it becomes available. This
situation report, together with further information on ongoing
emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at