Subject: Indonesia yet to restore security in W. Timor: UN

Indonesian Observer May 26, 2001

RI yet to restore security in W. Timor: UN

By M. Nafik Abdurrahman The Indonesia Observer

NEW YORK — The United Nations has said Indonesia has not yet provided security guarantees, for international aid workers to return to West Timor, where three of their colleagues were killed by militiamen.

"For humanitarian workers to go back to West Timor, we need to have better enable the conditions there to be possible," said Kenzo Oshima, under-secretary general for UN humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator.

"It has not been done yet by the Indonesian government," he added, speaking during a high-level briefing for senior Asian journalists on Thursday at the UN headquarters in New York.

However, Oshima said the UN and the Indonesian government have been discussing efforts to restore security for international aid workers in West Timor, technically the province of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT).

"The discussions have not yet reached the stage where humanitarian agencies find it possible to go back," he said.

"But we hope sooner rather than later that an agreement will be reached in order that humanitarian workers can go back to West Timor."

On September 6 last year, three UN relief staff members were murdered in the West Timor border town of Atambua during a mob attack, in which Indonesian police, responsible for the aid workers security, did not intervene, despite witnessing the entire incident.

The killings forced their all aid agencies to evacuate the province where tens of thousands of East Timorese refugees are stuck under alleged intimidation and terror by militia elements.

Asked whether the intimidation and terror is still taking place in West Timor, Oshima said: "I think there are still such problems lingering, and other security problems created by militias."

Meanwhile, Oshima also said UN aid agencies were closely watching security conditions in other areas across Indonesia, particularly the war-torn province of Aceh, and offered a greater role in humanitarian activities there.

"For the moment, what we can do is to monitor closely the situation and to be ready to be more involved in a bigger way, if requested by the Indonesian government," he said.

"If the situation becomes fair enough for the government to deal with or if it is necessary to do an appeal for international assistance, then we will get the UN involved."

Oshima was appointed for the post by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in mid-January to replace his predecessor Sergio Vieira de Mello, who is now serving as Annan’s special representative for East Timor as the chief of UNTAET.

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