Timor-Leste: UN seeks to end unrest, aid victims as Annan broadcasts call for calm

Ian Martin

1 June 2006 – A senior United Nations envoy today met with leading Timor-Leste officials in a bid to restore calm as radio stations broadcast a taped appeal from Secretary-General Kofi Annan for unity after weeks of unrest and violence in the small South-East Asian country which the world body shepherded to independence from Indonesia four years ago.

UN agencies together with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) continued to provide aid for more than 100,000 persons – about 1 in 10 of the total population – displaced by the violence, which broke after the dismissal of a third of the armed forces in April.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have joined 11 nations and several international institutions in a joint call for all rival political military and ethnic groups in the country to end the fighting. Australian troops have already landed in the country at the Government’s request to help restore calm.

Mr. Annan’s envoy Ian Martin, head of the UN Human Rights Mission in Nepal whom he dispatched urgently to Timor-Leste last week, has met with President Xanana Gusmão, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, and other Government leaders as well as with the Bishop of Dili, representatives of civil society, and members of the diplomatic corps.

In his message, Mr. Annan urged the people to set aside their differences in the interest of the nation, called on all concerned to “act together, urgently, to prevent the situation from deteriorating further,” and appealed to members of the defence and security forces to “abide by their obligation to uphold the constitution and the rule of law.”

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is providing highly fortified biscuits to 6,000 children and pregnant women in internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps in and around the capital, Dili, to complement Government relief rations and aims to increase food distributions in the coming days. WFP and the Government have agreed to provide food to 30,000 IDPs in the countryside who have been affected by the recent fighting.

There are an estimated 65,000 IDPs in and around Dili and 35,000 in the countryside.

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