Subject: ABC: UN ETimor mission meets with Australia, New Zealand

ABC News

Wednesday June 18, 01:50 PM

UN ETimor mission meets with Australia, New Zealand

Updated 1 hour 58 minutes ago

A delegation from the United Nations is holding high level meetings with Australian and New Zealand government officials this week to report on the situation in East Timor.

The UN Mission in East Timor (UNMIT) representatives are in Australia, and will visit New Zealand on Thursday.

UNMIT is expected to highlight progress in areas like law and order and reforms to the public service.

Alison Cooper, spokeswoman for UNMIT, has told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program there has been a significant amount of progress in the past two years but international support will be needed for several years.

"While the situation is stable, we do say there is a fragility to that, of course that was evidenced by the attacks on the prime minister and the president in February but nonetheless the state is moving on from that," Ms Cooper said.

"The situation we see on the streets of Dili now is quite a different situation to two years ago but we're also reminding the international community that Timor Leste will need the support of the international community for several years to come yet."

Ms Cooper says the mission has learnt many lessons since it began in 1999.

She says one of the most significant lessons is that the international community maintain assistance in security, development of the rule of law and socio and economic development.

She also says supporting the development of "democratic governance" is a long term goal.

"Essentially, working with state institutions to make them stronger to make Timor Leste a more independent state that eventually won't need the assistance of the international community in years to come," Ms Cooper said.

You can find the full story at the Connect Asia website: http://radioaustralia.net.au/connectasia

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<radioaustralia.net.au/programguide/connectasia.htm?page=home>Connect Asia

East Timor fragile despite progress in law and order

Updated 10 hours 26 minutes ago

A delegation from the United Nations is in Australia to update the government on the situation in East Timor.

The delegation will be highlighting progress in areas like law and order and reforms to the public service.

But UN officials led by the UN Secretary General's Special Representative for East Timor are also expected to tell Australian officials that while security is now stable - the overall situation is still fragile.

Presenter: Sen Lam Speaker: Alison Cooper,spokeswoman for UN Mission in East Timor, UNMIT

COOPER: Well, it's not a report we're giving, we're going to a series of meetings and we're telling officials in Australia and then we'll move on to New Zealand tomorrow. There's been a significant amount of progress made during in this time in Timor Leste since August, 2006. There's been gains made in a number of key areas. However, as you did mention, while we say that the situation is stable, we do say there is a fragility to that. Of course that was evidenced by the attacks on the prime minister and the president in February, but nonetheless the state is moving on from that. The situation we see on the streets is generally now is quite a different situation to two years ago, but we're also reminding the international community that Timor Leste will need the support of the international community for several years to come yet.

LAM: You mentioned the fragility of the nation and also of violence of the past, for instance, in 2004 and 2005 and also indeed earlier this year the attempts on the president's life. What lessons do you think the UN has learned from these incidents?

COOPER: Well, the United Nations has been involved in Timor Leste since 1999 and we are now the fifth peacekeeping mission to be mandated by the Security Council. We've learnt many lessons and we've contributed to the development of Timor Leste in many ways. Probably one of the more significant lessons that we will be very mindful in the next one to two years is ensuring that the international community keeps a presence there and keeps it and continues to provide assistance in four key areas. Now we classify those key areas firstly as the review and reform of the security sector, so that's looking at assisting both the national police and the national army. We also say that there is a strong need to continue to develop the rule of law in Timor Leste. The third area is promoting socio and economic development, trying to decrease poverty and increase people's living standards. And the fourth is maintaining support in an area of what we call democratic governance, which is essentially working with state institutions to make them stronger, to make Timor Leste a more independent state that eventually will not need the assistance of the international community in years to come.

LAM: Indeed, and policing of course is a key point of the security sector. Do you see a time line emerging for when the UN police will actually hand over responsibility to the locals?

COOPER: Okay, well, I mean this word hand over is almost a little bit of a nebulous word, because I know there's been a lot of press in the past week over our visit here.

What will happen in the next six months progressively the PNPL, which is the National Police Force, will resume responsibility for policing across the 13 districts of Timor Leste. But it's not a clear cut hand over, because the United Nations police officers of which there is currently 1,608 mandated strength. They will maintain a very widespread footprint across the country at least until February next year. Of course it's a matter of the Security Council to decide if there will be a draw down. But at this stage, from where we sit at the moment, we could not see any significant draw down even in February next year. So the National Police will start to resume responsibility, but their international counterparts will be very much there. They will help and assist them when that help and assistance is needed. And of course in conjunction with the international police officers, you have also go the international stabilisation force, which is the Australian-led army contingent that comprises approximately 1,000 soldiers from Australia and then New Zealand. So a very big international presence and there's no plans to move that international presence away from Timor Leste, away from any of those four areas I outlined, but the country's making significant progress, so it's time the country's did assume responsibilities in many different areas, which still have the international community to help it.

LAM: And just very briefly Alison, do you think the people of East Timor, particularly in Dili, do you think they are seeing signs of that progress that you have just mentioned?

COOPER: Well, it's a very different situation to even what it was a few months ago. I mean Dili at night, at the moment is partly to do with the gorgeous weather there. But you will see people out on the street, certainly there was a very large concert that attracting I think tens-of-thousands of people in Dili several weeks ago. So people are out moving. The IDP the Internally Displaced People living in the camps within Dili. We are seeing those camps returning home. We've had two or three major camps within Dili closed and those people have opted to go home in the past few weeks. I mean these are all indications that people are feeling safer and that there's a definite will to move forward.


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