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UN efforts to restart civil society in East Timor

High-level talks continue at UN on efforts to restart civil society in East Timor.


29 September -- In a follow-up to the agreements reached yesterday during the ministerial meeting chaired by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UN officials today met with the Indonesian delegation Amb. Jamsheed Marker headed by Foreign Minister Ali Alatas to discuss ways of meeting the urgent needs of East Timor.

As a result of a series of bilateral and trilateral meetings at UN Headquarters on Tuesday, Indonesia agreed that the United Nations should start making preparations to provide the physical infrastructure and personnel to fill the administrative vacuum and get the essential services and civil society restarted in the violence-wracked territory.

The agreements were announced Tuesday night by Secretary-General's Personal Representative Jamsheed Marker after Secretary-General Kofi Annan had first met individually with Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Atlas and Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama and then chaired a trilateral meeting with the full delegations.

In his comments to the press last night, Ambassador Marker said that given the enormous and urgent humanitarian need in the wake of the violence, the UN was already beginning to put in transitional personnel in what he described as a "de facto arrangement" to which Indonesia had agreed.

On another key issue discussed on Tuesday, Ambassador Marker said Indonesia had agreed that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) would have "free and complete and transparent access" to thousands of internally displaced persons in West Timor so they could "express their views freely" on whether they want to stay, return to East Timor or be resettled somewhere else.

"It was agreed that everything should be done to expedite this process," Ambassador Marker said, noting that UNHCR was arranging to get to the camps as soon as possible and that he remained satisfied that they would be able to get there and be able to carry out this exercise in accordance with the agreements reached on Tuesday.

ENDS

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