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Timor-Leste: UN Relocates Families Of Staff

Timor-Leste: UN Relocates Families Of Staff As Security Concerns Heighten

New York, May 27 2006 3:00PM

The United Nations today announced that all UN families and non-essential staff members will begin to be relocated from Timor-Leste to a temporary safe haven in Darwin, Australia, because of heightened security concerns.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative in the troubled nascent country, Sukehiro Hasegawa, said in Dili, the capital, that "a temporary relocation for non-essential staff is the most judicious choice at this time."

Mr. Hasegawa added that the UN will still maintain more than 100 international staff in Timor-Leste while others will continue to work from Darwin. Stressing that this measure is a temporary one, he expressed hope that the arrival of Australian and other international security forces would allow a return to a secure environment for the Timorese people "many of whom are now living in a heightened sense of panic and fear."

He expressed his appreciation to the Australian Government for providing Australian security personnel to protect the UN compound where several hundred UN personnel are working and staying overnight.

The United Nations remains committed to supporting and assisting the people of Timor-Leste, officials with the UN office there, known by the acronym UNOTIL, said.

On Thursday, army soldiers in Dili opened fire on unarmed police, killing nine and injuring 27 others, including two UN police officers. The violence had begun when army elements launched an attack on national police headquarters in the capital city. After an hour, UN police and military advisers negotiated a cease fire that was agreed to on the condition the police surrender their weapons and leave unarmed.

Unrest started last month when five people were killed and 60 injured in clashes after the dismissal of 594 soldiers - a third of the total armed forces.

The Secretary-General has dispatched Ian Martin, currently the head of the UN Human Rights Mission in Nepal, to Dili to assess the
first hand.

Mr. Martin was Mr. Annan's Special Representative in East Timor in 1999, as it was called then, when it voted for independence from Indonesia, which occupied the country after Portugal left in 1974.

2006-05-27 00:00:00.000

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