National

UN demands tougher action
on Timor militiamen


UNITED NATIONS (Agencies): The United Nations Security Council has demandedtougher action by Indonesia to curb militias harassing UN staff in refugee camps in West Timor.

In a statement, it called on the government of Indonesia ""to arrest thosemilitia extremists who are attempting to sabotage the resettlement"" of refugees who fled or were driven out of East Timor 11 months ago.

Latest UN estimates say that between 85,000 and 120,000 remain in camps in West Timor, while more than 167,000 have returned to East Timor.

The council said intimidation of staff of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees was so severe that the UNHCR had indefinitely postponed the task of registering people to see whether they wished to return to East Timor orbe resettled.

The refugees fled across the border during the mayhem which followed a ballot organized by the UN on Aug. 30 last year.

The council also condemned the murder on July 24 of a New Zealand soldierserving with the UN peacekeeping force in East Timor who is believed to have been shot by militiamen.

It welcomed the establishment with Indonesia of a joint inquiry into the killing of Pvt. Leonard Manning and said it also welcomed Indonesia's cooperation in bringing his attackers to justice.

The council expressed ""profound concern at the continuing presence of large numbers of refugees from East Timor in camps in West Timor, at the continuing presence of militia in the camps, and their intimidation of staff of the UNHCR.""

Indonesian Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab is scheduled to meet UN SecretaryGeneral Kofi Annan in New York on Aug. 19 to discuss the refugee situation in West Timor.

The council said the registration of refugees ""should be completed as soon as possible given the impending rainy season.""

The statement was issued by Malaysia's ambassador to the United Nations, Agam Hasmy, who holds the rotating presidency of the council this month.

It called on the government in Jakarta to ""take effective steps to restore law and order"" and to guarantee the security of refugees and international humanitarian staff.

It said refugees should be separated former military personnel, police and civil servants who had worked in East Timor when it was a province of Indonesia.

The council said it ""acknowledges that the government of Indonesia has approached these challenges with an attitude of cooperation.""

It pointed out that the government had signed an agreement on human rights with the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) on April 6, and that a joint border commission was set up on July 5.

""The council regrets, however, that serious problems persist and looks forward to these agreements being translated into concrete progress on the ground,"" it said as quoted by AFP.

Meanwhile from Dili, East Timor, visiting Australian Defense Minister John Moore said Friday that UN peacekeepers in East Timor now face a well trained and disciplined anti-independence militia force which he claimed continues to use Indonesian West Timor as a haven.

Moore, who was on a six-hour visit to East Timor, defended a decision to send four high-tech, Australian Black Hawk helicopters to guard East Timor's border with Indonesia saying the aircraft are needed to help securethe region from heightened threats.

""Clearly the militia today is better trained, better disciplined and are acting more coordinated than ever before,"" he said.

Moore called on Indonesia's government to fulfill its promise to empty dozens of refugee camps in West Timor, which have been used as training andrecruitment grounds by militia gangs.

""The instability on the border is primarily due to a large number still in the refugee camps and it's up to the Indonesian government to move thesepeople along,"" he said as quoted by AP.

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