The situation in East Timor remains very dangerous
The Hon. John Moore, MP Minister for Defence
The Hon. Alexander Downer Minister for Foreign Affairs
We have been tragically reminded of this by the death of a Dutch journalist in Dili.
We want to take this opportunity to convey to journalists and to editors, the Government's formal view that East Timor is, and will remain for some time, a very dangerous place.
INTERFET'S priority is to fulfil its mandate to restore peace and security in East Timor, protect and support UNAMET, and facilitate humanitarian assistance operations. It cannot provide protection for all individuals who travel to East Timor.
The INTERFET force is working hard to secure Dili and, over time, to extend their presence to other areas of East Timor. It cannot afford to be diverted from the implementation of its UN mandate.
INTERFET is able to provide protection and support for a small number of accredited journalists, chosen on a pool basis.
Others travel strictly at their own risk.
We urge non-accredited journalists to stay out of East Timor, for the time being. We especially urge editors to consider their responsibility for the safety of their employees, and ask them to advise non-accredited personnel to depart from East Timor.
Space will be made available on INTERFET aircraft returning to Darwin for journalists who wish to leave East Timor.