SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS ON GOVERNMENT OF INDONESIA TO RESTORE ORDER IN WEST TIMOR REFUGEE CAMPS

3 August 2000
SC/6905

SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS ON GOVERNMENT OF INDONESIA TO RESTORE ORDER IN WEST TIMOR REFUGEE CAMPS

3 August 2000

Press ReleaseSC/6905

SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS ON GOVERNMENT OF INDONESIA TO RESTORE ORDER IN WEST TIMOR REFUGEE CAMPS

20000803

Presidential Statement Urges Indonesia to Arrest Militia Extremists Attempting to Sabotage Refugee Resettlement

The Security Council this morning called on the Government of Indonesia to take effective steps to restore law and order in refugee camps in West Timor and to provide free access for humanitarian personnel to the camps.

In a statement read out by its President, Hasmy Agam (Malaysia), the Council also called on the Indonesian Government to separate the former military personnel, police and civil servants from the refugees and to arrest militia extremists attempting to sabotage the resettlement of refugees.

The Council expressed its profound concern at the continuing presence of large numbers of East Timorese refugees in those camps, as well as the continuing presence of militias in the camps and their intimidation of staff of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The Council was particularly concerned that the intimidation had reached such a level that the UNHCR had been forced to postpone indefinitely its activities, including the important effort of registering refugees.

The Council called for a more determined involvement in the problem by the Government of Indonesia, including its implementation of the memorandum of understanding with the UNHCR of 14 October 1999, and with a recent security agreement concluded between local authorities and the UNHCR. It called on the Government to cooperate more closely with the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) to end cross-border incursions from West Timor, to disarm and disband the militias and to bring to justice militia members guilty of crimes.

The Council invited the Secretary-General to report at an early date on the process for adopting a constitution and the holding of democratic elections, on the basis of close consultations with the East Timorese. The report would include detailed plans on the transitional process.

The Council strongly supported steps taken by UNTAET to strengthen the involvement and direct participation of the East Timorese people in the administration of their territory, in particular, the establishment on 14 July of the National Council and the reorganization of UNTAET to build capacity in the run-up to independence.

Security Council - 2 - Press Release SC/6905 4182nd Meeting (AM) 3 August 2000

It took note of the Secretary-General’s intention to reduce the size of UNTAET's military component in the eastern sector of East Timor to a battalion strength of 500 by the end of January 2001.

Noting that the National Council of Timorese Resistance was advocating the creation of a national security force, the Council welcomed work being done on the territory's defence and security needs and their practical and financial implications. It urged the East Timorese people to conduct a broad discussion of those issues.

Elsewhere in the statement, the Council condemned the murder on 24 July of a New Zealand soldier serving with UNTAET, and expressed its sympathy to the Government and people of New Zealand and to the family of the murdered peacekeeper. The statement said the Council was determined to ensure the safety and security of United Nations personnel there and asked the Secretary-General to inform it as soon as possible on the outcome of his investigation into the incident.

The meeting, which began at 10:22 a.m., was adjourned at 10:33 a.m.

Statement

The full text of the statement, to be issued as document S/PRST/2000/26 reads, as follows:

"The Security Council recalls its previous resolutions and the statements of its President on the situation in East Timor. It welcomes the report of the Secretary-General of 26 July 2000 (S/2000/738) on the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). It takes note with warm appreciation of the progress made by UNTAET and pays tribute to the leadership of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General. The Council also welcomes the significant progress made in building healthy relations between East Timor and Indonesia. The Council acknowledges in this regard the cooperation shown by the Government of Indonesia, UNTAET and the people of East Timor.

"The Security Council strongly supports the steps taken by UNTAET to strengthen the involvement and direct participation of the East Timorese people in the administration of their territory, in particular, the establishment on 14 July 2000 of the National Council and the reorganization of UNTAET, with a view to building capacity in the territory in the run-up to independence. The Council invites the Secretary-General to report at an early date, on the basis of close consultations with the East Timorese, on the process for adopting a constitution and holding democratic elections.

"The Security Council notes that the National Council of Timorese Resistance is advocating the creation of a national security force. In this regard, it welcomes work being done on East Timor's future defence and security needs and their practical and financial implications. It urges the East Timorese people to conduct a broad discussion of these issues. The Council welcomes the humanitarian relief given by UNTAET to the cantoned troops of the Armed Forces for the National Liberation of East Timor and encourages further assistance in this regard.

"The Security Council condemns the murder on 24 July 2000 of a New Zealand soldier serving with UNTAET and expresses its sympathy to the Government and people of New Zealand and to the family of the murdered peacekeeper. The Council is determined to ensure the safety and security of United Nations personnel in East Timor. In this regard, it requests the Secretary-General to inform the Council as soon as possible on the outcome of his investigation into the incident. It welcomes the establishment on 31 July 2000 of a joint investigation between UNTAET and the Government of Indonesia, and welcomes also the cooperation of the Government of Indonesia to bring the perpetrators to justice.

"The Security Council expresses its profound concern at the continuing presence of large numbers of refugees from East Timor in camps in West Timor, at the continuing presence of militia in the camps and at their intimidation of staff of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It expresses particular concern that this intimidation reached such a level that UNHCR were forced to postpone indefinitely their important effort to register refugees and determine whether they wished to return to East Timor or to be resettled, a task that should be completed as soon as possible given the impending rainy season. The Council calls for a more determined involvement in this problem by the Government of Indonesia, including implementation of their memorandum of understanding with UNHCR of 14 October 1999 and of a recent security agreement concluded between local authorities and UNHCR. The Council calls on the Government of Indonesia to take effective steps to restore law and order, to establish conditions of security for refugees and international humanitarian personnel, to allow free access for such personnel to the camps, to separate the former military personnel, police and civil servants from the refugees, and to arrest those militia extremists who are attempting to sabotage the resettlement process.

"The Security Council acknowledges that the Government of Indonesia has approached these challenges with an attitude of cooperation, manifested, inter alia, by the signing of such important agreements with UNTAET as their memorandum of understanding of 6 April 2000 on legal, judicial and human rights matters, and their memorandum of understanding of 11 April 2000 on Tactical Coordination, and the establishment on 5 July 2000 of a Joint Border Commission. The Council regrets, however, that serious problems persist and looks forward to these agreements being translated into concrete progress on the ground. It also calls on the Government of Indonesia to cooperate more closely with UNTAET in the field to end cross-border incursions from West Timor, to disarm and disband the militias and to bring to justice those militia members guilty of crimes.

"The Security Council takes note of the Secretary-General's intention to reduce the size of the UNTAET military component in the eastern sector of East Timor to a battalion size force of 500 by the end of January 2001 in light of the situation on the ground.

"The Security Council requests the Secretary-General to keep it closely informed of the situation in East Timor, including through a military assessment of the security situation and its implications for the structure of the military component of UNTAET. It also requests the Secretary-General to continue to report to it in line with the requirements set out in its resolution 1272 (1999) of 25 October 1999. It requests the Secretary-General to present to it, in his next regular report, detailed plans on the transition to independence for East Timor, which should be drawn up in close consultation with the East Timorese people.

"The Security Council will remain actively seized of the matter."

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).

The UNTAET was carrying out the daunting task of attempting to build and manage a State without preparation, and had maintained close contact with the different political groupings, notably, the National Council of Timorese Resistance. 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.

The report notes, however, that there have been disturbing cases of intimidation against groups and parties not under the National Council of Timorese Resistance umbrella. To counter them 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 in the report that great progress has been made in that regard, with an exchange of visits between President Wahid and National Council of Timorese Resistance leader Xanana Gusmao. 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 recent 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 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.

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For information media. Not an official record.