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East Timor: ICRC visits detainees in Baucau

19-06-1996 News Release 96/24

On 15 and 16 June, the ICRC was granted access to people arrested in connection with the violent demonstrations that broke out early last week in the town of Baucau, in East Timor. Two ICRC delegates, one of them a nurse dispatched from the organization's East Timor office in Dili, visited a total of 80 detainees held at two military posts and a police station, in order to ensure that those injured in the demonstrations were receiving proper care. In an effort to ease the general tension, the ICRC representatives then contacted the detainees'families to inform them of their relatives'whereabouts and reassure them. The delegates made a round of the town's hospitals to assess needs, and also monitored the transfer of a seriously injured person to the military hospital in Dili.

The ICRC has maintained a presence in East Timor since 1974, and has been working as a neutral intermediary to facilitate dialogue between the civilian population and the Indonesian authorities. Its delegates regularly visit persons held in connection with the situation on the island. In cooperation with the Indonesian Red Cross Society, the ICRC is also taking an active part in a public health campaign and sanitation programme in areas suffering from a shortage of drinking water.