POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS, KILLING OF UN PEACEKEEPER, PLIGHT OF REFUGEES, DISCUSSED IN SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING ON EAST TIMOR
POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS, KILLING OF UN PEACEKEEPER, PLIGHT OF REFUGEES, DISCUSSED IN SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING ON EAST TIMOR
POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS, KILLING OF UN PEACEKEEPER, PLIGHT OF REFUGEES, DISCUSSED IN SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING ON EAST TIMOR20000728
Political developments in East Timor, the killing of a United Nations peacekeeper and the continuing plight of refugees in the neighbouring Indonesian province of West Timor were the dominant themes this morning as the Security Council held an open meeting on the situation in East Timor.
Briefing the Council, Hedi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said the last six months had seen the creation of a decision-making Cabinet whose 33-strong membership was half Timorese, marking the first time that the East Timorese had ever assumed political responsibility. The new National Council would broaden participation in legislative consultations by including new sectors of the population who had not previously been represented.
He said that the August conference of the National Council for East Timorese Resistance -- the territory's largest and most representative political coalition -- should significantly advance the debate on such key issues as East Timor's new constitution and the timetable for elections. However, the Secretary-General had cautioned that it was necessary to strengthen tolerance for political bodies outside the broad umbrella of the National Council for East Timorese Resistance, and for religious groups and ethnic minorities.
As successive speakers condemned the killing of Private Leonard William Manning of New Zealand, his country's representatives and the Australian delegate called upon the Indonesian Government to bring to justice those responsible for his death. They also condemned those who threatened to destabilize East Timor and urged Indonesia to end militia activity along its border with East Timor by disarming and disbanding all militia groups. The New Zealand delegate thanked fellow Member States for their messages of sympathy.
Indonesia's representative responded that his country had consistently condemned all acts of violence, including the killing of Private Manning. The incident had occurred after strenuous Government efforts to prevent such actions. Indonesia had made every effort to cooperate with the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) in ensuring a peaceful transition for East Timor.
However, there were no easy solutions to the multifaceted refugee problem, he said. From the outset, the Government had cooperated in expediting repatriation, but a successful resolution to the problem required the assistance of the international community and the United Nations.
Security Council - 1a - Press Release SC/6902 4180th Meeting (AM) 28 July 2000
The representative of the United Kingdom asked why so many refugees remained in West Timor camps 11 months after the East Timor referendum, why those camps had remained under militia control and why their violence and intimidation against the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had been allowed to reach such levels. Registration must be completed quickly so that refugees could be repatriated or resettled before the next rainy season. The continuing failure to resolve the issue of militias in West Timor had a destabilizing effect on East Timor.
Council President Patricia Durrant (Jamaica), speaking in her national capacity, referred to reported harassment and intimidation of religious and ethnic minorities, saying that the inclusion of all groups and parties was fundamental to the process of democracy in East Timor. The gains made so far must be consolidated, not destroyed, and tolerance across political, religious and ethnic lines must be among the foundations for the future Territory. Efforts must continue towards the full establishment of a credible justice system, a representative political system, a functioning public service and the continued inclusion of the East Timorese in all aspects of public administration and governance.
The representatives of Bangladesh, Argentina, Namibia, China, Russian Federation, Canada, Malaysia, United States, France, Netherlands, Tunisia, Ukraine, Mali, Portugal and Japan also made statements.
Today's meeting began at 11:46 a.m. and adjourned at 2:06 p.m.
Security Council - 3 - Press Release SC/6902 4180th Meeting (PM) 28 July 2000
Council Work Programme
When the Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in East Timor, it had before it the Secretary-General's report on the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET)(document S/2000/738) covering the six months since 26 January, the date of his last report on East Timor.
The Secretary-General observes that the last six months have demonstrated UNTAET's daunting task of attempting to build and manage a State without preparation, and while still lacking important expertise. Special Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello has worked in the closest possible consultation with the East Timorese and with their full consent, while UNTAET has maintained close contact with the different political groupings, notably the National Council for East Timorese Resistance.
On the political transition, the report says that the 15-member National Consultative Council established in December 1999 was the primary mechanism for East Timorese participation in decision-making. On 14 July, a larger and more representative National Council with 33 members replaced the National Consultative Council. At the same time, UNTAET organized itself to resemble more closely the future government, increasing direct East Timorese participation and giving them a greater share of political responsibility.
Regrettably, there have been disturbing cases of intimidation against groups and parties not under the National Council for East Timorese Resistance umbrella. To counter those tendencies and prepare the population for democratic elections, UNTAET had launched a programme called the future of democracy in East Timor.
Noting that East Timor's best assurance for a secure future lies in healthy relations with Indonesia, its closest neighbour, the Secretary-General says great progress has been made in that regard with President Wahid and National Council for East Timorese Resistance leader Xanana Gusmao exchanging visits. However, the unresolved issue of East Timorese refugees in West Timor, the activities of pro- integration militias who control the refugees and continuing cross-border attacks by West Timor-based groups are very disturbing, as highlighted by the fatal shooting of a United Nations soldier.
According to the report, more than 167,000 refugees have returned from Indonesia, primarily from West Timor. But an estimated 85,000 to 120,000 remain in camps in that Indonesian province, where militias opposed to East Timor's independence continue to exercise great influence and to impede the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) through intimidation and violence. Earlier this month, the agency's efforts to register refugees and determine whether they wished to return or be resettled were repeatedly delayed and had to be postponed indefinitely when militia members attacked UNHCR workers.
The report says UNTAET's military positions near the border came under fire in late February to mid-March, when militia groups carried out four significant cross-border incursions. Following meetings between the Mission's Force Commander and Director of Political Affairs and the Indonesian Foreign Minister and Armed Forces Chief, the Indonesian military undertook to renew efforts to ensure border security and prevent militia infiltration of East Timor. However, on 28 May, an Australian soldier was injured in an attack on an UNTAET post. Another attack occurred on 21 June and three days later, a New Zealand soldier was killed when an UNTAET patrol investigating a reported cross-border incursion came under automatic weapon fire.
According to the report, troops of the Armed Forces for the National Liberation of East Timor (FALINTIL) have been cantoned in the Aileu district since October 1999. Difficult living conditions, lack of supplies and lack of clarity about their current and future role have recently led to concerns over discipline and morale. It had not originally been envisaged that East Timor would have armed forces, except for police-related security personnel. The National Council for East Timorese Resistance initially supported that position, given East Timors limited resources, but now advocates the establishment of a national security force based on FALINTIL to ensure security when UNTAET leaves.
HEDI ANNABI, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said that the last six months had witnessed the creation of a Cabinet, half of whose members were Timorese heads of Government departments. That Cabinet had enabled the Timorese to assume Government responsibilities for the first time. The National Council would broaden participation in the legislative consultation by including new sectors of the population who were not represented before that time. However, as the Secretary-General had emphasized, there was a pressing need to strengthen tolerance for political bodies outside the broad umbrella of the National Council of Timorese Resistance, religious groups and ethnic minorities.
The National Council of Timorese Resistance was scheduled to hold a conference in August, he said. That would be a very important policy forum which should significantly advance the debate on key issues of the new constitution and the timetable for political elections.
He said relations with the Indonesian Government had advanced, but a few key outstanding issues remained. Among those was the unsatisfactory situation in the refugee camps in West Timor reflected in the priorities drawn up by the UNHCR for guaranteeing the security of the refugees and its own workers. Those include the separation of former Indonesian soldiers, police and civil servants from the bulk of the refugees. The Government of Indonesia should be encouraged to ensure that the militia influence in the refugee camps and activities in the border area be brought to an immediate end.
He said there had been a worrying increase in thefts and violent crime, primarily in Dili. Following a large gang fight in April, the decision had been taken to make side arms available to United Nations police, when necessary. Therefore, reducing urban unemployment and migration, which appeared to be the main causes of the problem, remained a priority.
On the issue of the future defence of the independent States, he said that a study should produce three proposed options, all of which would assume that the FALINTIL would be at the core of a new defence force that would require international aid and training. Also, given the levels of destruction and disruption, the reactivation of the economy was clearly a long-term task that would continue after independence. While reconstruction of buildings was slow, it was encouraging that the Timorese political leaders had agreed on a modest budget of $59 million. That sum would require additional subsidy from voluntary contributions.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that East Timorese leaders should not allow intolerance to take root in political expression, and religious and ethnic sensitivities. Tendencies towards such practices were being indulged and, in that regard, UNTAET initiatives in civic and political education and the rule of law would be fully endorsed. He supported that the Missions policy of information and communication was being strengthened -- that would enhance confidence in the activities of UNTAET and should inculcate in the East Timorese population, respect for others rights.
The continuing problem of militia activity was a dangerous trend with the potential of undoing the good work done by UNTAET and the good will and cooperation that the Indonesian Government had shown. Much more needed to be done to terminate that activity in the areas bordering East Timor. The recent spate of attacks on UNHCR property and personnel was also disturbing. Their safety and security was most important, as they were playing the pivotal role in ensuring the rapid return of refugees to East Timor. The Indonesian authorities must ensure the safety of all aid workers in West Timor and secure the refugee camps from incessant attacks of armed elements. The recurring of such incidents did not augur well for the stalled repatriation process.
He stated that the process of transition should be long and slow. Realistic benchmarks, not an arbitrary time-frame should be the guiding factor. Consultations should be conducted with the national leadership with the Council receiving regular feedback, as it was important that the people of East Timor, through their own leadership, perceived those benchmarks to be milestones in their quest for national development.
ALISTAIR HARRISON (United Kingdom), welcoming the East Timor donor conference held in Lisbon from 21 to 23 June, said that while the simplification of UNTAETs procedures was encouraging, there was no room for complacency. The UNTAET and the donor community should step up their efforts to ensure the delivery of practical benefits to the East Timorese people. An essential first step would be the establishment by UNTAET and the World Bank of measurable performance indicators which would allow them to judge progress in the coming months.
Another piece of good news was the work being done on East Timors future defence and security needs, as well as their practical and financial implications, he said. The United Kingdom was pleased to have been able to provide funding, but the final decision would be for the East Timorese people themselves -- not for UNTAET or the international community. The United Kingdom encouraged them to have the broadest possible debate on their options. One of the key voices in that debate would be FALINTIL.
He said that as one of the main forces in East Timors independence movement, FALINTIL could reasonably have expected to have benefited in the same way as the military wings of successful independence movements elsewhere. But because the United Nations was the administering Power, it had not. Neither had it received due recognition. FALINTIL forces remained cantoned, with nothing to do and no role to play.
Why did so many refugees remain in West Timor camps 11 months after the ballot? he asked. Why had those camps remained under the control of thuggish pro- integration militias, and why had their violence and intimidation against UNHCR been allowed to reach such levels? Registration of refugees must be completed quickly to enable their repatriation or resettlement before the next rainy season. The situation was deplorable and could not be allowed to continue. The continuing failure to resolve the issue of militias in West Timor had a destabilizing effect on East Timor.
ARNOLDO LISTRE (Argentina) stated that a key factor for rebuilding East Timor was the training of local leaders who would guide the nation when the United Nations withdrew. The inclusion of United Nations staff in key cabinet positions was a strategic move. The efforts to develop a culture of tolerance should be supported. International assistance had helped to achieve rehabilitation of the countrys infrastructure and create jobs. It was necessary to pursue the development of agriculture and the oil sector, areas that had great potential for East Timor.
However, unlike the progress seen in those areas, the suffering of thousands of refugees in West Timor continued, he added. That was a grave situation, particularly in certain areas where the UNHCR had been forced to suspend its activities due to the receipt of constant threats. The proposal of the Secretary- General to make a major reduction of the force if the situation became stable could be questioned -- it wasnt clear whether conditions in the field were appropriate for such a reduction, particularly in the event of the recent killing of the peacekeeper from New Zealand.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia), welcoming efforts to normalize relations between Indonesia and East Timor, said the value of mutual visits in strengthening bilateral relations could not be overestimated. That process remained essential for future regional cooperation between the two.
Regarding the rebuilding and rehabilitation of East Timor, he stressed the importance of involving the private sector in creating employment and expressed strong support for projects geared towards human resource development. Namibia looked forward to the reopening of the National University of East Timor in October.
Deploring continuing militia intimidation and violence against refugees and relief workers, he called for urgent measures to ensure their safety and expressed the hope that UNHCR would be allowed to continue its work without hindrance.
He said that although the number of border incidents had declined following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on tactical coordination of the border area, the killing of Private Leonard Manning on 24 July had demonstrated the urgent need for further effective steps to disarm and disband the militia groups.
WANG YINGFAN (China) welcomed the inclusion of the East Timorese in the transitional administrations decision-making process, saying they would achieve self-reliance much more rapidly through their greater participation in the political transition. The UNTAET should always respect local traditions and culture as well as the will and choices of the local people.
Expressing concern over the plight of refugees in West Timor, he said that although the general security situation in East Timor was stable, recent incidents of violence were disquieting. China condemned attacks on United Nations peacekeepers and trusted that the Government of Indonesia would live up to its obligations by ensuring security along the border with East Timor.
ANDREI GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) agreed with the assessment in the report that the positive results achieved by UNTAET were obvious, but there should be concern over the situation in the refugee camps in West Timor and the continuation of militia activities. However, UNTAET should be commended for its successes in different areas of the situation in East Timor, for example agriculture, training, justice and the decision to include East Timorese in the political decision-making process, which had resulted in the creation of the National Council.
ROBERT FOWLER (Canada) expressed concern at the suspension of UNHCR activities in three of the largest refugee camps in West Timor because of increasing violence and intimidation, noting that the continuing aggression against the agencys staff was unacceptable. Militia members must be held to their commitment not to interfere with the safe return of refugees. The involvement of East Timorese in the work of administering the Territory, through the creation of the National Council, was an encouraging step. The UNTAETs work to establish an integrated security sector, including the use of a community based approach, was also commendable.
He noted that the groundbreaking work in the area of justice was laying a solid foundation, and it was hoped that that would extend to closer cooperation between the Mission and Indonesian authorities on the prosecution of those who committed human rights abuses. The UNTAET had also made commendable efforts to promote human rights and democratic values through civic education, constitutional development, the rule of law and political education. The Mission must be encouraged to reinforce its dissemination of information on those issues. Canada also supported UNTAETs comprehensive approach to State building, illustrated by early and active attention to such issues as the environment, resolution of land ownership uncertainties and education.
MOHAMMAD KAMAL YAN YAHAYA (Malaysia) said the appointment of East Timorese to the National Council was the first time that they had been involved in running the affairs of their own country. However, in order to succeed, they must cultivate a spirit of tolerance and national reconciliation.
He noted with satisfaction the establishment of the tactical coordination committee on border affairs following two days of meetings between UNTAET officials and Indonesian authorities. However, Malaysias enthusiasm was tempered by the deterioration in the security situation in West Timor.
There was only a trickle of foreign investment entering East Timors barely existing private sector, he said. Equally disturbing were the land disputes occurring in the territory. But without proper regulations and with files having been destroyed, the reluctance of investors was understandable.
NANCY SODERBERG (United States) said the Secretary-Generals report had underscored that East Timor would require attention and assistance from the international community even after independence. In spite of instability in the border area, the situation in the eastern part of East Timor was calm and the United Nations was correctly proceeding with a logical and gradual diminishment of UNTAETs troop strength, which would result in a significant reduction by early 2001 without sacrificing overall security.
However, problems remained along the border which were fuelled by the intolerable situation in West Timor, she said. The Government of Indonesia was abrogating its responsibility to maintain law and order there, especially in and around the camps. Their failure to do so threatened the work of the United Nations and the impressive progress made to date. Important agreements had been reached on cooperation, and the sharing of information now occurring between Indonesian and UNTAET human rights investigators demonstrated what could be accomplished with the right intentions. However, tangible improvements on the ground, particularly in West Timor, were needed. Indonesia must do more and live up to its international agreements to pave the way for a future stable and friendly relationship between two sovereign neighbours.
Turning to the unrelated issue of the continuing violence in the Moluccas, she expressed concern over that development, which had resulted in the deaths of thousands and a humanitarian crisis affecting hundreds of thousands of Indonesian citizens. The international community must speak out against that violence. It was the responsibility of the Government of Indonesia to act to end the crisis.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said the Assistant Secretary-General had noted that an investigation was under way to identify those responsible for the killing of the peacekeeper. However, beyond that tragic event, there had also been favourable positive developments in East Timor and its achievement of independence was possible. The proposed cutback in peacekeeping operations could be considered because of the exemplary behaviour that the East Timorese had demonstrated.
He noted that a people who had just spoken out in favour of independence must be able to take its fate in hand quite soon. The impact on the countrys economy of an international factor of the magnitude of the Mission should be taken into account. The time frame could be cut back and United Nations assistance converted into development aid. However, the situation in West Timor was showing little progress. The Indonesian authorities should find a prompt solution to the problems being faced in the refugee camps.
JOOP SCHEFFERS (Netherlands) said that the security situation in East Timor was still cause for concern. The killing of Private Manning and continuing cross- border attacks made it premature to assume that security had been restored. The Netherlands expressed condolences to the Privates family and to the Government of New Zealand.
Regarding proposed troop reductions, he urged the Council to consider such measures carefully, taking into account the situation on the ground. Troop reductions should not be undertaken in the absence of military advice.
He said the future East Timorese armed forces would help strengthen security. The Netherlands welcomed the statement contained in the Secretary- General's report that FALINTIL would initially be at the core of East Timor's armed forces.
The prospect of East Timor's independence was a matter of great importance, one for which the United Nations bore a heavy responsibility, he said. The handing-over process should be carefully calibrated to take into account emerging Timorese capacities. He welcomed the new National Council and Cabinet.
He echoed the United States delegate in expressing concern over the situation in the Moluccas and called on Indonesia to restore law and order there in order to enable humanitarian workers to carry out their work.
MOHAMED SALAH AYARI (Tunisia) expressed satisfaction at the establishment of the National Council, which showed that the acute crisis was now over. That was a sign of progress, but those efforts must now be consolidated. In addition, agreements made to facilitate border crossing arrangements and the establishment of a joint border committee signalled positive developments in the situation of the refugees in West Timor. The task of the UNHCR should be made easier.
The fate of East Timorese children should be of primary concern, he said. Addressing the economic aspect of the situation, he added that the international community, including donor nations, should complement the efforts of the Mission.
VOLODYMYR KROKHMAL (Ukraine) said that the Council must receive more detailed and accurate information of the situation of the security on the ground. The UNTAET's guidance role in pointing East Timor back in the right direction was conducive to the achievement of that country's independence. Moreover, the significant advances, as well as the difficulties in the process must be underlined, as it was clear that the Mission was encountering serious problems in the conduct of its work in East Timor.
CHEICKNA KEITA (Mali), expressing sympathy for the Government of New Zealand, said the killers of Private Manning must be made to answer for their crime, as must the perpetrators of violence and intimidation against refugees and humanitarian workers.
He said the constant progress in East Timor bore witness to the success of UNTAET. Mali was pleased with the establishment of a new National Council in the Territory. Its broad base would lead to the East Timorese people's broader participation in decision-making.
Mali was concerned over political harassment and intimidation in East Timor and the general increase in political unrest in East Timor, he said. The UNTAET's efforts to maintain law and order were a welcome measure.
He also welcomed efforts to normalize relations between Indonesia and East Timor, saying good bilateral relations would lead to the resolution of significant problems and help promote investment.
PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica), Security Council President, speaking in her national capacity, said UNTAET had the unique task of building and managing a State, and the cooperation of the East Timorese people with the Mission in its bid to create a stable, viable and democratic East Timor had not gone unnoticed. The situation in East Timor had improved since the adoption of resolution 1272 (1999), but concerns remained, particularly regarding refugees in West Timor, incidents of violence and intimidation as they related to ethnic and religious minorities and the security situation.
More than 85,000 refugees remained in the camps in West Timor and the work of UNHCR had been impeded, he said. With the halting of the registration process by the agency, it would be difficult to determine who wished to be resettled or returned.
Referring to the reported incidents of harassment and intimidation of religious and ethnic minorities, she said that the inclusion of all groups and parties was fundamental to the process of democracy in East Timor. The gains which had been made so far must be consolidated, not destroyed, and tolerance of various groups on different sides of the political, religious and ethnic divide must be one of the foundations for the future East Timor. The role of UNTAET in creating a generally stable security situation and in ensuring the countrywide provision of humanitarian assistance must be applauded.
She said that the present focus on reconstruction and rehabilitation was timely. The UNTAET must continue to improve its consultation with beneficiaries and local civil leaders in that process. There had also been some improvement in the economic situation -- particularly in the moderate expansion of business activity and the strong recovery in the agricultural sector due to the good coffee crop and domestic demand.
However, she said, work must continue towards the full establishment of a credible system of justice; a representative political system; development of the public service; and the continued inclusion of the East Timorese in all aspects of public administration and governance. In that regard, training in capacity- building must remain a priority.
MICHAEL POWLES (New Zealand) said the death of a United Nations peacekeeper on active service was an all too common event. Private Manning's death was distinguished by the circumstances surrounding it. Only last month concern had been expressed in the Council Chamber at militia incursions and attacks on United Nations peacekeepers, including the wounding of an Australian soldier. While acknowledging the positive actions undertaken by Indonesia up to that point, New Zealand had called in June for renewed efforts by the Indonesian Government to rein in the militias in West Timor.
He said his Government was grateful for the many messages of sympathy received from Council members, including those of the President and Mr. Annabi on behalf of the Secretary-General. They would be passed on to Private Manning's family. New Zealand demanded that those responsible for his death be brought to justice and welcomed the Indonesian Government's undertaking to that effect.
The dangerous security environment along East Timor's border with Indonesia had been allowed to persist for far too long, he said. New Zealand again urged Indonesia to redouble its efforts to end all militia activity in West Timor. That would require effective action to disarm and disband the militia groups. The extremists must be dealt with firmly. Furthermore, New Zealand condemned those who threatened East Timor's stability and the United Nations-sponsored peace and reconciliation process for which Private Manning had made the ultimate sacrifice. There must be no further violence against those deployed in East Timor.
MARIA PAIVA (Portugal) said despite all UNTAET's efforts, it must be recognized that dialogue with the Indonesian authorities had not yet produced the desired results. The killing of the New Zealand peacekeeper was regrettable -- that event overshadowed the transition towards independence.
Activities being carried out along the border signalled a lack of cooperation on the part of several groups, she said. Therefore, the Indonesian Government, particularly the military forces, must cooperate with UNTAET to disband the militia forces. The difficulties being experienced in the slow return of refugees from West Timor and the intimidation of UNHCR staff were regretful.
DAVID STUART (Australia) said the killing of the New Zealand peacekeeper served to remind the international community of the challenges it still faced in meeting its commitment to the people of East Timor. Australia condemned the violent behaviour of those who would destabilize the process of peace and reconciliation in the Territory and called upon all parties to stiffen their resolve to stamp out militia activity on both sides of the border.
He said Australia was conscious of the efforts already made at the most senior levels of the Indonesian Government to deal with the problem. Only the Government could take the necessary steps to prevent such incidents. Indonesia was urged to redouble its efforts to end militia activity in West Timor, including by bringing to justice those militia members who had committed crimes.
Also causing serious concern to the Australian Government was the situation in the refugee camps in West Timor, he said. Ongoing militia activity in and around the camps continued to affect the refugees, who were the most vulnerable members of East Timorese society. Until they felt safe to return home, or to make other free choices about their future, the reconciliation process would remain fragile.
He called on the Indonesian Government to do everything possible to accelerate the resettlement and repatriation of refugees, including separating militias from refugees; ensuring international agencies had unimpeded access to determine the refugees' preferences and to supervise repatriation; to address UNHCR's serious concerns about its capacity to continue carrying out its responsibilities in East Timor; and, with the international community, to plan for permanent resettlement of those who did not wish to return.
HIDEAKI KOBAYASHI (Japan) also expressed grave concern at the recent resurgence of militia activities in the border areas of East Timor. The Government of Indonesia had taken measures that had resulted in a decrease of militia activity in those areas after April, but recent incidents revealed that their efforts must be continuous. The border areas must be secured to prevent cross-border incursions. The root cause of the problem must be addressed by disarming and disbanding the militias in West Timor. Only the Government of Indonesia could take necessary effective measures.
The fate of the remaining East Timorese refugees in West Timor was also a matter of concern, he noted. The Indonesian authorities had made efforts to facilitate their return, but the lack of progress on that issue in recent months demonstrated that greater efforts for their return must be made by the parties concerned. The resources of the UNHCR were not limitless, therefore international support was essential to the resolution of the problem.
MAKARIM WIBISONO (Indonesia) said in an effort to implement the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Legal, Judicial and Human Rights Matters that had been agreed on by UNTAET and his country, a team from the Attorney-General's office arrived in Dili on 19 July to begin a 10-day mission there. Its purpose was to collect evidence and testimony in connection with the five priority cases to be presented by Indonesia.
Also, he said, as had been acknowledged in the report, the security situation had been generally stable and the Indonesian Armed Forces had deployed additional battalions on the border to ensure the stability and security of that area. Among other initiatives, the Government and the Mission were currently addressing the issue of pensions for former East Timorese employees living in East Timor.
Those examples were all evidence of Indonesia's cooperation with UNTAET in ensuring a peaceful transition for East Timor, he noted. However, there were no easy solutions to the multi-faceted problems of the refugees. From the outset, the Indonesian Government had cooperated with UNTAET, UNHCR and other relevant international humanitarian organizations to expedite the repatriation of refugees, but a successful resolution to the problem required the assistance of the international community and the United Nations.
He stated that Indonesia had consistently condemned all acts of violence, including the recent tragic incident which involved the killing of a United Nations peacekeeper. The incident had occurred after strenuous efforts by the Government of Indonesia to prevent such an act. The Government had invited New Zealand to jointly investigate the incident.
Some time ago in efforts to prevent such an occurrence, the Indonesian authorities had proposed to UNTAET that a joint border patrol and exchange of military liaison officers must be undertaken, he said. That proposal had been rejected by UNTAET on the basis that the concerned parties had to be responsible for providing security on their respective sides of the border.
Mr. ANNABI, responding to members' statements, said a number of the FALINTIL force were currently serving as security officers in UNTAET while others worked as liaison personnel between the Mission and the local population. They had chosen not to become members of the East Timorese police force. Moreover, a large number had gone on extended home leave and the number of the force had since fallen from over 1,000 to under 500. Meanwhile, the Mission had been considering various options for the return to civilian life of those members who would not join the defence force. The recommendations proposed by the ongoing Kings College Study would enable UNTAET to move forward on those options.
On the issue of the improvement of the situation of the refugees in West Timor, he said they needed to have unhindered access and guarantee of their security, as well as that of humanitarian workers. In addition, a credible registration exercise must be conducted to enable their repatriation. The commitment of the Indonesian Government to pay pensions to former civil servants would also remove obstacles to the return of the former refugees. The Security Council might wish to hold discussions with the Government of Indonesia to decide on future steps to be taken.
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