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UN appeals to Indonesia to control militia rampage

UN appeals to Indonesia to control militia rampage through East Timor.

The United Nations continued to pressure the Indonesian authorities to provide adequate security for its personnel after officials reported Friday that militia rampaged through Maliana and Liquica, burning homes and attacking residents.

The UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) evacuated all its international staff from the village of Maliana, which was described as a "ghost town" and where two local UN staff were killed yesterday. UN staff remain in Liquica, however, where 20 to 30 houses were burned.

A UNAMET spokesman told reporters in Dili that the UN was taking additional measures, such as instituting a curfew and a convoy system for vehicles, to ensure the safety of its personnel.

In New York, the spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan reiterated that the agreement authorizing Monday's ballot specified Indonesia's responsibility for maintaining law and order and controlling violence.

"The security situation must be brought under control and we think Indonesia is capable of doing that," said Spokesman Fred Eckhard. "We continue to appeal to them to do what is within the realm of possibility, namely to clamp down on these renegade elements running around with machetes and weapons."

Meanwhile, staff from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are in a "race against time" to provide urgently needed assistance to displaced people, who now number about 55,000.

According to UNHCR, many of them are being temporarily housed in churches and schools after initially seeking shelter at the UNAMET compound. The UNHCR and other aid agencies are providing them with rice, beans, dried fish, sugar, salt, mats, blankets and kitchen sets.


Top UN human rights official calls for possible international action to protect East Timorese.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, on Friday expressed deep concern over reports of spiralling violence in East Timor and said a substantial UN peace-keeping force might be needed to protect civilians and UN staff, given the inability of Indonesian security forces to control the situation.

Mrs. Robinson said the current violence threatens to derail the consultation process and seems aimed at denying the East Timorese their right to determine their own future.

"It is essential that the progress achieved until now in East Timor not be reversed," said Mrs. Robinson, stressing that the outcome of Monday's vote represents the will of the people and must be respected.

Mrs. Robinson said the Security Council must urgently consider the deployment of international or regional forces if the Indonesian authorities are unable to fulfil their responsibility to ensure the security of the Timorese people, adding that she was encouraged that the Indonesian Government had indicated it might consider accepting an international security presence in East Timor.

ENDS

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