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Security Council condemns militia attacks in Timor

Security Council condemns militia attacks in West Timor - Militia attacks continue in West Timor in wake of murder of UN relief workers


Security Council condemns militia attacks in West Timor

8 September -- Condemning the recent wave of militia attacks in West Timor, in which three United Nations relief workers were killed, the Security Council today insisted that Indonesia take "immediate additional steps" to disarm and disband the militias, restore law and order, ensure the safety of refugees and humanitarian workers, and prevent incursions into East Timor.

Adopting unanimously a resolution at a late evening meeting, the Council stressed that those responsible for the attacks against international personnel in West and East Timor must be brought to justice.

Following the vote, the Security Council President, Ambassador Moctar Ouane of Mali, announced the decision to dispatch a mission of the Council to Indonesia and East Timor to discuss the implementation of the resolution.

In its resolution, the Council noted Indonesia's decision to deploy additional troops to West Timor to improve the security situation, but stressed that UN refugee workers could not return until there was credible security and real progress towards disarming and disbanding the militias.

Expressing outrage at the reported attacks in West Timor on 7 September in which a number of refugees had reportedly been killed, the Council called on the Indonesian authorities to ensure the safe return of refugees choosing to go back to East Timor and stressed the need for parallel programmes to resettle those who chose not to return. The Council also welcomed the 7 September letter of the Indonesian President to the Secretary-General, in which he expressed outrage at the killings and stated its intention to launch a full-scale investigation and take firm measures against those found guilty.

The Council underlined that the UN Transitional Mission in East Timor (UNTAET) should respond "robustly" to the militia threat in East Timor, consistent with the Council's October 1999 resolution.


Militia attacks continue in West Timor in wake of murder of UN relief workers

8 September -- Against the background of wide international condemnation of the murder of three United Nations workers in West Timor, the situation in the area continued to be very volatile, with militia members attacking civilians and terrorizing aid staff, UN officials said today.


A senior official of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) in East Timor said that some staff of non-governmental organizations (NGO) were still in hiding and being hunted by militia elements, although nine workers had been able to make it to safety in Suai, East Timor, last night. "Among them there are five individuals we've been extremely worried about the last 48 hours," the agency's Chief of Operations, Bernard Kerblat, told reporters in Dili. "I'm happy to report that they are exhausted, terrified, traumatized, but they are in safety."

UNHCR has also received unconfirmed reports of 20 killings in Betun. "We do not know if they are Indonesian citizens or refugees but we know that there are no NGO personnel among these 20," Mr. Kerblat said, adding that some international staff remained in West Timor, but no details could be given on their whereabouts or number, for security reasons. The agency did not know the number of wounded in the Betun violence.

In New York, a UN spokesman said that a total of 391 aid workers - both Indonesian and international -- had been evacuated to safety from West Timor as of yesterday. An additional 73 local staff and dependents were transported out of Kupang to Indonesia today, while 14 workers travelled overland from Atambua to Batugade, East Timor, the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, in a letter released today at UN Headquarters, Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid conveyed to Secretary-General Kofi Annan the "very deep sorrow" felt by the people and Government of Indonesia over the deaths of the relief staff. "We are in disbelief and outraged that such unspeakable crimes were committed against the good people of UNHCR," the President wrote, adding that his Government intended to conduct a full-scale investigation into the "brutal murders." President Wahid pledged to "get to the bottom" of the incident and take "firm measures against those found guilty."

In Geneva, a UNHCR spokesman said that the bodies of the slain aid workers -- Samson Aregahegn, Carlos Caceres and Pero Simundza -- were now in Dili awaiting positive identification of their remains before being flown out. Mr. Aregahegn, a 44-year-old supply officer from Ethiopia, joined UNHCR in 1990 as a field assistant. Mr. Simundza, 29, a telecommunications operator from Croatia, began working for the agency in 1993. Mr. Caceres, a 33-year-old American citizen, had been with UNHCR for three years, the last six months in Indonesia as a protection officer.

ENDS

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