Subject: UN: New ferry service to link with Oecussi enclave

UN Newservice New ferry service to link East Timor with Oecussi enclave

27 September -- A new passenger ferry service will soon link East Timor to its Oecussi enclave in Indonesia, in order to connect the two parts of the territory until a safe land route can be established through militia-swamped West Timor, the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) said in a statement issued in Dili.

"The takeover of parts of West Timor by militia groups makes it unlikely that a land corridor can be established anytime soon," UNTAET said. "Therefore, the only economic possibility for transport between Oecussi and East Timor proper is by sea."

The operation of the passenger ferry service was approved today in Dili by the East Timor Transitional Cabinet.

Oecussi, located 45 kilometres from the border with East Timor, has been without transportation to the rest of the territory - except for limited air service - for more than a year, according to the UN mission.

Last February, UNTAET chief Sergio Vieira de Mello and Indonesian Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab signed a Joint Communiqué providing for "unimpeded access" for goods and people on a special transit corridor between the enclave and the rest of East Timor. That route has not yet been established because of the fragile security situation in West Timor, where three UN personnel were murdered by militia earlier this month.

At the meeting today in Dili, the Cabinet also decided to provide a subsidy of $5,000 per month to enable the Australia-based East Timor Shipping and Supply (ETSS) to operate the service. Early next year, another company may take over the ETSS passenger ferry service, which UNTAET has called "a temporary solution."

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