Subject: AU: 150,000 displaced by Timor violence


150,000 displaced by Timor violence

David Nason, New York correspondent June 29, 2006

THE number of East Timorese people registered as internally displaced has risen past 150,000 - about 15 per cent of the country's population - according to figures released at UN headquarters in New York.

The UN said there were now 10,000 more displaced people than at the beginning of last week, a clear sign that fear and uncertainty continues to reign on the troubled island.

The figures, collected by the UN Office in East Timor (UNOTIL), show that more than 79,000 people are displaced in districts outside Dili while more than 72,000 are living in makeshift tent camps in the capital.

The data was released as Ian Martin, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special envoy to East Timor, continued to meet senior officials of the ruling Fretilin party of former prime minister Mari Alkatiri, who resigned this week after weeks of speculation about his future.

Mr Martin has been asked to make recommendations to the Security Council by August 7 about the structure of a new UN mandate for East Timor.

This will include details on the size, composition and powers of a proposed UN police presence, as well as the duties it should undertake and how long it should be deployed.

Earlier this month, Mr Annan said it was "obvious" the UN would have to engage East Timor in a much larger way than the existing UNOTIL presence.

East Timor's parliament has requested a UN force of 870 police deployed in five units for a minimum of 12 months and with four key areas of responsibility.

These are the maintenance of law and order in Dili and other key regions using specialised and rapid reaction police units; community and general policing in Dili; advice on the rebuilding of East Timor's police including the vetting of officers, policy planning and drafting of legislation; and investigation of serious incidents, including forensic support.

East Timor's police force effectively disintegrated in late April at the height of the violence that forced the intervention of the Australian-led international force now trying to maintain order and protect civilians.

The crisis, which has cost 37 lives, was sparked by jealousies within East Timor's police and armed forces and fuelled by regional tensions and the failure of the Alkatiri government to control the situation.

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