05/04/2001
Press Release
SC/7044



Security Council

4308th Meeting (AM)


ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR PEACEKEEPING TELLS COUNCIL

OF PROGRESS AND PROBLEMS IN EAST TIMOR


Civil disturbances in East Timor, the forthcoming elections and the resignation of Xanana Gusmão as president of the National Council dominated discussions in the Security Council this morning as members heard a briefing by Hedi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Operations in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.


Describing the internal security situation as the territory prepares for independence, Mr. Annabi said recent incidents included the disruption of a rally held by the Popular Council for the Defence of the Democratic Republic of East Timor (CDP-RDTL).  Among other incidents were the burning of a mosque and a riot in which some 40 homes were burned in East Timor's Baucau District.


The new East Timor Defence Force had begun training this week, he explained, with the assistance of Portuguese instructors.  Australia had established a training centre and loaned rifles for the training.  A special programme supported by the World Bank would help former combatants not included in the new force to return to civilian life.


Turning to the question of refugees, he said there had been an increase in the number returning home from West Timor.  More than 180,000 refugees had returned, although an estimated 100,000 were still in West Timor.  Those remaining reportedly continued to face intimidation and lacked access to information about the real conditions inside East Timor, he added.  A proposed security assessment mission for West Timor was still under discussion.


Singapore's representative said that Mr. Gusmão's resignation was a particularly disturbing event.  Although he would remain politically active, with José Ramos-Horta replacing him on the National Council, the resignation was an indication of political trouble.  Given that context, establishing an exit strategy for East Timor would not be easy.  The United Nations must show flexibility to maintain a strong presence in the coming months.  Force levels should not be tied to the election date but to the timing of independence.  East Timor should not be seen in isolation, but within a regional context, he emphasized.


Council President Sir Jeremy Greenstock (United Kingdom), speaking in his national capacity, stressed the need to ensure that any refugees wishing to return to East Timor had the chance to do so in time to register for the elections. 


4308th Meeting (AM)                                          5 April 200l


There must be a comprehensive information initiative in the camps to let the refugees know what was going on.  He asked for additional information regarding reports of women being held and abused in West Timor, and urged the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) to follow up on the situation.


The representative of France stressed the importance of planning in preparing East Timor for the future.  It was important that the United Nations Secretariat prepare for the post-election period in order to enable a scaling down of the international presence.  A United Nations presence would undoubtedly be necessary for a long time, and recent incidents bore witness to that.  Nevertheless, it was still possible to plan for a withdrawal so that the United Nations would not be seen as an occupying force.


The Council also heard from the representatives of Norway, United States, Tunisia, Ukraine, Jamaica, Colombia, Ireland, Mauritius, China, Mali, Bangladesh and the Russian Federation.


Today's meeting, which began at 10:35 a.m., adjourned at 12:55 p.m.


Secretary-General’s Report


The Council had before it the Secretary-General's report on the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) in which he proposes an integrated follow-on mission to support the territory after its transition to independence by the end of the year and recommends the extension of UNTAET's mandate until 31 December 2001.


In the report (document S/2001/42), covering developments between 27 July 2000 and 16 January 2001, the Secretary-General recalls the Security Council's request last November that the President of the General Assembly consider increasing flexibility in the use of assessed resources allocated to complex operations like UNTAET.  This should also apply to the follow-on operation, which would function in accordance with an agreement to be concluded with the new Government.  The UNTAET has been asked to draw up plans for such an operation in close consultation with the Timorese and partner organizations, he adds.


Noting that a newly-independent East Timor will still require substantial international support beyond that normally provided to a developing country, he says that the East Timor Defence Force will not be fully established by the end of the year and that it may be necessary to maintain UNTAET's military component, at a strength to be determined in the light of developments.  Similarly, the necessary level of building up of the Timorese police presence will not be completed by 2002, and so a continued international police presence will be needed.


The same applies to departments where it will take some time to replace international staff, the report continues.  The East Timor Transitional Administration, established on 7 August 2000 to integrate the East Timorese into all major decision-making areas, has set up a special unit to expedite their replacement with qualified East Timorese civil servants.


East Timorese now exercise substantial governmental powers through the

all-Timorese National Council, the Timorese-majority cabinet and the all-Timorese judiciary, according to the report.  On 19 October, Jose-Ramos Horta was sworn in as cabinet member for foreign affairs.  East Timorese now hold five of nine cabinet portfolios, the other four being internal administration, infrastructure, economic affairs and social affairs.


At its first session, the National Council elected Xanana Gusmão, president of the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT), as Speaker and Milena Pires as Deputy Speaker.  On 12 December, the National Council endorsed the outlines of Mr. Gusmão's proposed political calendar, broad public discussions of which produced agreement on electoral procedures and the composition of the Constituent Assembly; the drafting and adoption of a constitution; establishment of a government; and the possible holding of elections.  It is expected that the Constituent Assembly will become the first legislature of the independent State.


A major political activity in the reporting period was the August CNRT congress in Dili, which saw Mr. Gusmão re-elected as president, the report says.  José Ramos-Horta and Mario Carrascalão were elected as vice-presidents.  The CNRT congress also revealed differences between its leadership and the main component party, the East Timor National Liberation Front (FRETILIN), as well as the Timorese Democratic Union, neither of which has joined the CNRT Permanent Council.  However, there were signs of improving relations by the end of the year.


According to the report, FRETILIN has embarked on national restructuring while the rival Popular Council for the Defence of the Democratic Republic of East Timor (CPD-RDTL) has campaigned for a return to the independent State proclaimed in 1975.  The Social Democratic Party offers a centrist political alternative, attracting a number of younger CNRT leaders.  The CPD-RDTL campaigning has drawn violent reactions from FRETILIN and CNRT supporters.  In the most serious incident, a senior CPD-RTL national leader was among three people injured in an attack by FRETILIN supporters on 3 December.  A planned civic education programme will address the East Timorese tendency to associate political party activity with violence.


Regarding security, the report says that infiltration by West Timor-based militia groups has decreased in recent months.  Following the killing of New Zealand and Nepalese soldiers on 24 July and 10 August respectively, it was estimated that up to 150 militia groups were operating in East Timor.  The UNTAET operations in late September, and the onset of the rainy season, saw their activities decrease towards the end of September.  However, UNTAET suspended a planned reduction of its military component and brought in an additional rifle company.


Related to the militia problem is the large number of East Timorese refugees who are subject to intimidation by the militias in their West Timor camps, according to the report.  There are no indications of tangible progress in disbanding the militias and enabling the refugees to decide freely whether to return to their homes or to resettle in Indonesia, the report states.


The report also recalls the withdrawal of all United Nations international personnel from West Timor following the 6 September killing of three staff members of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) at Atambua.  Subsequently, Security Council resolution 1319 (2000) of 8 September insisted that the Indonesian Government take additional steps to disarm and disband the militias and that it ensure safety and security in the refugee camps.  But a November Council mission to East Timor and Indonesia found that the resolution remained largely unfulfilled.


The militia and refugee problems have affected a key area of concern -- relations with Indonesia, according to the report.  The postponement of a fourth round of bilateral talks scheduled for early September left several issues unresolved, including the restoration of public records, archives and cultural artifacts; the terms under which East Timorese students will be able to continue their studies at Indonesian institutions; and arrangements for free and unhindered movement of people and goods between the enclave of Oecussi and the rest of East Timor.


Also regarding the territory’s foreign relations, the report says that UNTAET began negotiations with Australia to reach a new legal arrangement relating to petroleum activities in the Timor Sea.  The first round took place in Dili last October and a second round was scheduled for March.


Background


In 1960, the United Nations General Assembly placed East Timor on its list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.  At that time, East Timor was administered by Portugal.  In 1974, Portugal withdrew from the territory and Indonesia intervened and later declared East Timor its twenty-seventh province.  The United Nations never recognized this annexation, and both the Security Council and the General Assembly called for Indonesia's withdrawal.


Beginning in 1982, successive Secretaries-General held regular talks with Indonesia and Portugal aimed at resolving the status of the territory.  A set of agreements between Indonesia and Portugal was finally signed in New York on 5 May 1999, which entrusted the Secretary-General with organizing a "popular consultation" to ascertain the East Timorese response to a proposal for special autonomy for East Timor within Indonesia.


To carry out the consultation, the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) was established on 11 June 1999.  On 30 August 1999 some 78.5 per cent of East Timorese voters opted to reject the proposed autonomy and begin a process of transition towards independence.  Following the announcement of the result,

pro-integration militias, supported by elements of the Indonesian security forces, launched a campaign of violence.  The Indonesian authorities did not respond effectively to the violence, and many East Timorese were killed and displaced from their homes.  A multinational force -- INTERFET -- was authorized by the Security Council and eventually restored order


On 19 October 1999, the Indonesian People's Consultative Assembly formally recognized the result of the consultation, and on 25 October, the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) was established (resolution 1272 (1999)).  The UNTAET is mandated to provide security and maintain law and order throughout the territory; to establish an effective administration; to assist in the development of civil and social services; to coordinate and deliver humanitarian, rehabilitation and development assistance; to support capacity-building for self-government; and to assist in the establishment of conditions for sustainable development.  On 1 January 2001, UNTAET had 9,287 total uniformed personnel, including 7,765 military, 1,398 civilian police and 124 military observers, supported by 888 international civilian personnel and 1,767 local civilian staff.


Briefing by Assistant Secretary-General


HEDI ANNABI, Assistant Secretary-General for Operations in the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, describing recent developments in East Timor, noted the 27 March resignation of Mr. Gusmão as president of the National Council.  To replace him as a member of the Council, Sergio Vieira de Mello, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, had appointed Mr. Ramos-Horta, who had consequently resigned as member responsible for foreign affairs in the transitional Cabinet.


Regarding the new East Timor Defence Force, he said a ceremony had been held to mark the disbanding of the former FALANTIL.  The new national force would comprise 1,500 light infantry soldiers and 1,500 reservists.  The FALINTIL’s former commander had been appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Force, with 650 ex-FALINTIL fighters forming its first battalion.  Training had begun this week, with the assistance of Portuguese instructors.  Australia had established a training centre and loaned rifles for the training.  A special programme supported by the World Bank would help former combatants not included in the new force to return to civilian life.


Regarding refugees, he said that an increase in the number returning home from West Timor was one of the positive developments in East Timor.  More than 180,000 refugees had returned home, although an estimated 100,000 still remained in West Timor.  Also, there were continuing reports that they continued to face intimidation and lacked access to information about the real conditions inside East Timor.


He said that a security assessment mission for West Timor, requested by the Security Council, was still under discussion.  Multiple incidents had occurred on the border in the past week despite the recent quiet.  Smuggling across the borders continued, and some incidents had been reported, including a shooting resulting in the death of a young woman on 3 April.  Just today, Fijian soldiers in UNTAET’s New Zealand contingent had come under fire.


Describing internal security incidents, he said they included the disruption of a CDP-RDTL rally attended by Mr. Gusmão.  Other incidents included the burning of a mosque and a fight between martial arts groups from two villages that had degenerated into a riot in which about 40 homes were burned.  As suggested by

Mr. Vieira de Mello last January, UNTAET’s Civilian Police had begun deploying by national contingent.  The Philippine contingent was deployed in Baucau as a test case.


Regarding the follow-on operation, he said the process of phasing out international staff would take time.  In the absence of the requisite East Timorese expertise, Portuguese personnel had been forced to take over the running of Dili Airport from the Royal Australian Air Force.  Work had begun to determine the international staffing and technical expertise required to support East Timor after independence.


Statements


OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said Norway had great interest in East Timor.  A Norwegian delegate had paid a visit to the territory in order to see how best to assist with the new challenges following independence.  Norway was committed to supporting the continued presence of the United Nations agencies in the region and had announced a pledge of $1 million to assist those agencies, which had already been dispersed.  There had to be an integrated approach in any development plan and the agencies should be given a central role in that regard.  It was important that Member States support the work of the mission.


Norway, he said, welcomed the further delegation of authority to the East Timorese leadership.  It also welcomed any further steps to reinforce the judicial system and implement the rule of law.  He encouraged the participation of women in political parties in the forthcoming election.  It was also important that the election be free and fair, and that the people of East Timor be allowed to exercise their right to vote.  It was crucial that all refugees be allowed to repatriate and vote in the election.


Norway had serious concerns about the security situation in the region and urged the Indonesian Government to fulfil the related Security Council resolutions, he said. 


JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said the United States supported the electoral timetable set by the mission, even though the schedule was tight. There was a lot that needed to be done before the end of the year and it was important that the process be seen through.


The United States, he said, was concerned about the security situation both within East Timor and along the border.  Nothing challenged East Timor’s chances for a peaceful future than unrest from within.  His delegation was also concerned about the recent incidents of challenges along the border and thought that the robust response of the mission was appropriate.  It encouraged Indonesia to show accountability.


The United States had been approached by a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) about the current tax regulations in East Timor, which they felt were problematic, he said.  He asked the Assistant Secretary-General how that situation was being solved.


NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said that the CNRT should take into consideration the aspirations of all the East Timorese people.  The acts of violence in two districts showed that the security situation in the territory was still fragile.  The violence must stop so that East Timor could prepare calmly for a new era, and to ensure the stability of the whole region.


He asked what steps UNTAET had taken to ensure security at this sensitive stage when political parties were becoming increasingly active.  Could

Mr. Gusmão’s resignation cause complications?  What attention should be given to tensions among the various political groups?


The Indonesian authorities had proved many times that they were willing to cooperate with UNTAET, he said.  The Security Council must take into consideration Indonesia’s invitation to a security assessment team to evaluate the situation in West Timor.  Such an action could help re-establish trust between the two neighbours.  The return of refugees would help restore calm in East Timor.


VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said he hoped that Mr. Gusmão would continue to play an active part in the territory’s political life.


Expressing satisfaction with the graduation of 450 Timorese from the police college, he noted with pleasure that they had been deployed throughout the country.  Ukraine was also encouraged by the establishment of the new East Timor Defence Force.


Noting that one of UNTAET’s primary responsibilities was the transparent transition to an independent East Timor, he welcomed the setting of an election date and the establishment of an Electoral Commission.  It was essential now to include all political parties in the process.


He said the return of refugees was another important process in restoring civil society.  Good relations with Indonesia in that regard were an imperative.  It was extremely important to end the presence and activities of militia groups in West Timor and to facilitate the restoration of international humanitarian assistance.  He hoped that the Secretariat would send a security assessment mission at its earliest possible convenience.


He asked what was the cause of the latest disturbances in East Timor, stating that they did not seem to be entirely caused by competition between political parties or youth sports groups.


In response to the question on tax regulations, Mr. ANNABI said that NGOs were not subject to income tax provided that they did not make a profit.  This allowed a vast majority of them to operate free of any tax on their activities. Some of them employed local personnel and, in that case, they were obligated to withhold tax but it was the withholding of tax on behalf of international staff that seemed to be more of a problem.  A working group had been established to prepare a country agreement for NGOs and the local government to sign, so it was an issue under active consideration.  He thought that a draft agreement would be worked out soon.


Regarding the recent incidents on the border and possible implications, he said that some of the incidents had been created by groups of youth with no political motivations behind them.  Incidents often quickly turned into a mob scene.  Other situations had been encouraged by people with political motivations who were trying to take advantage of the situation to gain political advantage.  If the mission had better information on some of the communities, many of the incidents would have been avoided.  It was looking at additional measures that could be taken so as to prevent situations, instead of having to react to them.


The resignation of Mr. Gusmão, he said, should not be dramatized. 

Mr. Gusmão had felt that there were too many demands on his time.  He was also somewhat unhappy with the differences of opinions that had been voiced by the political parties and saw trends that were not good.  He was trying to send a message that any political difference should be discussed in a better way.  The National Council was a difficult body.  Many of its most active members were very critical of the mission and felt that it had not done enough.  There had, in fact, been a lot of progress, which was clearly visible within the communities and the market places.


CURTIS WARD (Jamaica) said that his delegation recognized the importance of maintaining a security presence in the refugee camps  There were reports of refugees on the verge of starvation and Indonesia lacked adequate resources to deal with the refugee problem.  Would there be a return of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and when?  Had any progress been made in the area of property rights so that refugees could return?  Had the East Timorese given any indication of the areas with which they needed the most assistance, and in that context, was there an exit strategy?


ANDRÉS FRANCO (Colombia) applauded the increased refugee returns, noting that 600 had returned at the beginning of March and that some 2,600 had been recorded for the entire month.  However, Colombia was concerned about lack of access to camps where refugees were reported to be dying of hunger and disease.  The United Nations Security Coordinator should downgrade the security rating for West Timor to allow inspection of those camps as soon as possible.


East Timor was a country in gestation and the international community had great expectations for it, he said.  It would be very sad if political violence and religious intolerance were to derail its transition to independence.  Was there a mechanism to periodically assess the security situation in the field?  Who was behind the violence in Viqueque and Baucau, and was it possible that it had resulted from political manipulation?


Pointing out that a majority of participants in the National Council debate had said they had not been told about Mr. Gusmão's resignation, he noted that the Council had voted to postpone a debate on his replacement.  Did those political developments have an impact on the political timetable?  What kind of international assistance was most urgently required?


DAVID COONEY (Ireland) welcomed the initial Indonesian steps to investigate violations of international humanitarian law.


Regarding refugees, he sought information on the plight of East Timorese women who had been abducted during the 1999 conflict and who were now living in West Timor.  A good security environment would not only allow refugees to return home, but also enable international humanitarian agencies to continue providing assistance to those still living in refugee camps.


BIJAYEDUTH GOKOOL (Mauritius) said that for the democratic process to succeed, it had to be inclusive.  He hoped that this would be given the consideration that it deserved.  Mauritius looked forward to the quick return of refugees.  It appreciated the decision of the House of Representatives to set up two new courts and hoped that those efforts would not be retarded.  Was there recruitment and training of East Timorese to make the election transparent?  He asked what facilities were being put in place to assist in the return of refugees.


JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said it seemed that things were going well towards the setting up of a State that could stand on its own two feet.  The next important stage was the election on 30 August.


France, he said, was very concerned with the situation of the refugees who were still in West Timor.  The UNHCR estimated that there were still 180,000 refugees on the border, which was a very high percentage of the overall population.  It was clear that the return of the refugees would have an impact on the results of the election, and it was therefore important to speed up their return so that they could take part in the electoral process.  In Cambodia, the United Nations had used a process for the return of refugees that helped them participate in an historical election at that time.  He wondered if a similar process could be implemented.


Preparation for the future was a matter of planning, he said.  He underscored how important it was to France that the Secretariat prepare for the post-election period so that, afterwards, the international presence could be scaled down.  A United Nations presence would undoubtedly be necessary for a long time, and recent incidents bore witness to that. Nevertheless, it was still possible to plan for a withdrawal so that the United Nations would not be seen as some occupying force.


WANG DONGHUA (China) said that the issue of refugees remained a problem that could be corrected with the improvement of the security situation in West Timor.  That would also enable the return of humanitarian agencies.  It was hoped that the Council would consider sending a security assessment mission to the area.


He said that in order to ensure that East Timor was self-sufficient after independence, it was necessary to step up Timorization and to take into account the aspirations of all the East Timorese.  As a friendly neighbour, China had been helping East Timor and had recently signed an agreement to provide assistance in agro-machinery, fishing gear, farm tools and agricultural chemicals.  It would continue to help in agro-techniques and in training civil servants, he added.


Mr. ANNABI pointed out that the answers to some questions would have to be deferred pending the issuance of upcoming reports.  The Security Council had requested two reports:  one expected in April on the military situation and the deployment of UNTAET; and a second, more comprehensive, expected at the end of July, covering the entire post-independence picture.


Regarding questions of property rights, he said the transitional Cabinet had deferred those issues until after independence.  On security in West Timor, the United Nations Security Coordinator felt that a Phase 5 security rating should be maintained in view of continuing problems with militia groups.  However, the security assessment request would continue to be discussed with the Security Coordinator.  Refugees in the camps would not be registered as voters and those wishing to vote would have to return to East Timor, he added.


He said that while UNTAET had a very professional operation on the border with West Timor, incidents continued to occur.  It was likely that more would occur in the run-up to the elections, as it might be in the interest of some groups to create such incidents.  It was wise not to tamper with force levels before the elections.


Regarding the agreement recently signed with China, he expressed appreciation for that country’s aid, especially its assistance with the construction of the future East Timor Foreign Ministry.


SEKOU KASSE (Mali) said the way was now open for East Timorese independence, and the mission needed the support of the international community and its donors. He hoped that the election this summer would be well organized and inclusive. There was a very tight timetable for the election.  He wondered if the date of the elections could be more flexible, so as to allow for the return of the refugees.


YAP ONG HENG (Singapore) said that the situation of East Timor could be seen optimistically or pessimistically.  Unfortunately, it was possible that, at this point, things may not go smoothly in the coming months.  There had been some disturbing events in recent months, particularly the resignation of Mr. Gusmão. Mr. Ramos-Horta had stepped in and Mr. Gusmão was continuing to play an active role, but this was an indication of political trouble.  Given that context, establishing an exit strategy for East Timor would not be easy.  There was a need for the United Nations to show flexibility and to maintain a strong presence in coming months.  Force levels should not be tied to the election date but to the timing of independence of the nation. 


He asked that East Timor not be seen in isolation, but within a regional context.  There had to be a commitment to resolving the refugee crisis, as anything that happened in East Timor affected the overall region of southeast Asia.  Singapore remained committed, within its means, to help East Timor become a full member of the international community.


SHAMEEM AHSAN (Bangladesh) welcomed the fact that a large percentage of civil servants had already been appointed and applauded UNTAET’s regard for gender balance.  However, Bangladesh would have liked to see the same balance in the Constituent Assembly and was disappointed that the Assembly had rejected quotas for women.


He said his country was encouraged by the meeting between the Special Representative and the Indonesian Minister regarding a security assessment mission in West Timor.  Bangladesh also shared the concern of other delegations over taxes imposed on international non-governmental organizations.  It was important that they be allowed to work in East Timor as they did everywhere else in the world.


Regarding the economic situation, he asked what the current employment rate was, and what new projects had been undertaken in the last few months to improve it.  The relationship between unemployment and civil disturbances was quite clear, he added.


ANDREY GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) said that the likelihood of success of the election process should be able to be determined by June.  Such a determination should allow unpleasant surprises to be avoided.  Registration was of great importance in preparing for the elections.  It was particularly important to address the causes of the civil disturbances.


Noting that there had been a more active return of refugees, he agreed, however, that the fate of the 100,000 refugees who remained behind required close attention.  It also required close cooperation from the Government of Indonesia.


The Russian Federation was convinced that the Timorization of the territory’s civil service was the single most important hope for East Timor's transition to independence.


JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said that the briefing had been tremendously useful and it was clear that there had been significant progress on all fronts.  The forthcoming elections were extremely important.  Efforts had to be made to ensure that any refugees who wanted to return to East Timor had the chance to do so in time to register for the elections.  In that regard, there had to be a comprehensive information initiative in the camps, so that the refugees knew what was going on.


The United Kingdom, he said, welcomed the progress being made by Indonesia to put in place arrangements for an ad hoc court and hoped that this would be pursued as a matter of emergency.   After independence, East Timor would require extensive support.  There had been reports of women being held and abused in West Timor.  He asked if the Assistant Secretary-General had any information on those reports and also asked that the mission follow up on the situation.  The news of Mr. Gusmão’s resignation was of some concern.  It was important that he continue his contribution to national affairs.

Mr. ANNABI said that efforts were being made by the mission to encourage return of refugees.  One initiative was to provide subsidies to returnees.  This had been deemed reasonable and sustainable within the context of the economy of East Timor.  For the long term, it was more difficult, as the international community had seen in Cambodia and elsewhere.  The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was attempting to finance a project intended to help support voter education and capacity-building.  The organization of the entire electoral process was being approached from the capacity-building angle.


The elections could not be postponed until all of the refugees were back, he said.  They would take place by 30 August.  The National Council would then meet to discuss an exit date for the mission.  He clarified that Mr. Horta was not now the Chairman of the National Council.  He had been appointed a member of the Council to replace Mr. Gusmão.


East Timor, he said, was very much a rural territory and the level of unemployment was around 80 per cent.  The World Bank was pursuing a number of projects and the level of disbursement had reached $30 million.  It was important to remember that everything had been destroyed and East Timor had started at zero. A working group had been established to look at the level of assistance that would be required after the mandate of UNTAET expired.


He did not have detailed information on the abuse of women in West Timor but would look into it and report back to the Council, he said.  It was striking to hear from people in East Timor that domestic violence was at a very high level.  It was one of the main concerns of the Department of Justice. 


Summarizing the proceedings, Council President JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) stressed the need to focus on what the Council could do in the next few months to support UNTAET and to encourage the international community to support East Timor's transition to independence.


Giving pointers for the upcoming reports from the Secretariat, he emphasized the overall political situation within East Timor as well as the regional context, including relations with its neighbour; the need for accelerated refugees return and care for refugees in both West and East Timor; arrangements for the elections; and security, including the essential need, if possible, to snuff out the continuing threats to the social and security situation in East Timor.  The Council would like the security assessment mission to be considered, he added.


He welcomed the point raised by the representative of Bangladesh linking youth unemployment and violence by youth gangs.  The Council also welcomed the call for East Timorese abroad to return home and use their talent to help with the territory's transition to independence.


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