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Timor-Leste: Annan appeals to Security Council

Timor-Leste: Annan appeals to Security Council for renewed UN action

Secretary-General Kofi Annan today appealed for sustained international engagement in Timor-Leste as his special envoy formally introduced to the Security Council his recommendations for new UN action in the fledgling nation, including reformation of the police force and an investigation into deadly incidents that sparked the recent violence.

“We have learned – at a painful price for Timor-Leste – that the building of institutions on the basis of fundamental principles of democracy and rule of law is not a simple process that can be completed within a few short years,” Mr. Annan told the 15-member body.

“Clearly, tremendous work lies ahead, both for the government of Timor-Leste and for the international community,” he added.

In his briefing, Mr. Annan’s envoy, Ian Martin, outlined recommendations for renewed international involvement he culled from his recent mission to the nation shepherded to independence by the UN four years ago, which is now in turmoil after the dismissal in April of nearly a third of the armed forces, following by the eruption of killings, rioting and gang violence.

Priorities include restoration of the security sector, including the long-term development of the national police, which he said “was not completed in previous international efforts and has now encountered serious set-back and need for review.”

In addition, he said there was strong consensus that the UN should play a major role in the organization of elections for 2007 and in fostering national reconciliation, as well as establishing an independent Special Inquiry Committee to conduct an investigation to the deadly incidents of the past two months.

Asked by reporters outside the Council meeting for his priorities among those recommendations, Secretary-General Annan said that a bolstered international presence was crucial.

“It is obvious that the UN will have to go back to Timor-Leste in a much larger form than we are at the moment, and we will need to send an assessment mission on the ground to determine exactly what needs to be done.”

He also reported that he has asked Louise Arbour, the High Commissioner of Human Rights to take the lead in establishing the investigation committee.

As the Council’s discussion of the political situation continued into the afternoon, UN humanitarian agencies continued to increase their assistance to the over 100,000 people displace by the violence, a tenth of the total population.

Among such developments, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that 150 tonnes of relief supplies including tents, plastic sheeting, blankets and kitchen sets arrived by container ship today at the port of the Timorese capital, Dili.

The agency says it now has some 200 tonnes of such supplies on the ground, enough for around 17,000 people. It adds that it has begun pitching tents at the National Stadium, where it has been asked by the Government to house some of the displaced with the aim of decongesting the most overcrowded camps.

In addition, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that it launched a measles campaign targeting some 30,000 displaced children in the first phase of a two-week campaign.

Children aged 6 to 59 months will also be provided with vitamin A supplements and de-worming tablets, it said.

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