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East Timor: Radiolink service for the displaced

21-10-1999 News Release 99/42

Radiolink, a service to help people who were separated from their families during the crisis in East Timor, was launched on 19 October by BBC World Service, the ICRC and the British Red Cross.

According to recent estimates, up to 300,000 East Timorese are currently displaced in West Timor and other parts of Indonesia. Many of them have lost contact with their families and friends. Giving people news of their loved ones and reuniting families is a vital part of Red Cross work in such situations.

Several thousand Red Cross message forms have been filled in by displaced persons both in East Timor and in West Timor. These messages are being delivered jointly by the ICRC and the Indonesian Red Cross Society. In addition, the ICRC in East Timor has registered hundreds of names for radio broadcast. The partnership with BBC World Service should help reassure all those who are desperately waiting for news.

Chris Greene, World Service’s Managing Editor for South-East Asia, said:  “In societies that have been ripped apart by violence, radio can play an important role in helping people get back in touch with their families.”

As part of the Radiolink service, a 15-minute programme in Indonesian will be broadcast on BBC World Service every weekday at 10.40 GMT on two frequencies, 7160 KHz and 9680KHz. The programme, which will be heard throughout the archipelago, will give details about displaced East Timorese who have asked the Red Cross to help them trace their relatives. There will also be a special web page.

The Radiolink service for displaced East Timorese is init ially planned to run for three months. A similar service was set up earlier this year for refugees from Kosovo.