5000 refugees have returned to East Timor since June UNHCR

These latest returns mean that more than 213,000 of those who fled or were driven from East Timor in the aftermath of the September 1999 popular consultation have now returned to the newly independent country. Fewer than 50,000 East Timorese refugees remain in West Timor, according to UNHCR. The agency is currently facilitating dialogues between East Timor’s Government and refugee delegations aimed at fostering more returns. The third of a series of meetings between government officials and one delegation, led by former militia leader Joao Tavares, will take place on Saturday in Batugade, in the Bobonaro district of East Timor near the Indonesian border.Mr. Tavares claims to have a following of several thousand refugees, and UNHCR believes that if he returns he could bring a significant number of returnees with him.

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