Subject: No UN agencies to return to West Timor until security improved

No UN agencies to return to West Timor until security improved

JAKARTA, Nov 16 (AFP) - The United Nations will not send its agencies back to Indonesia's militia-plagued West Timor province until Jakarta has properly tackled security concerns there, a UN Security Council (UNSC) envoy said Thursday.

"Until those conditions and circumstances that prompted their (UN agencies) withdrawal from West Timor are addressed fully, it will be difficult for the UNHCR and other UN agencies to return to West Timor," Security Council ambassador Martin Andjaba said.

Andjaba was speaking after he and six fellow UNSC envoys had held 90-minutes of talks here with top Indonesian officials, at the end of a Security Council delegation mission to East and West Timor as well as Jakarta, scheduled to end Friday.

Some 400 aid workers fled the province after three UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) workers were hacked to death by militias in the West Timor border town of Atambua on September 6.

The exodus left some 130,000 East Timorese languishing in camps there that aid workers say are held under the sway of the militias.

Asked to elaborate on what he meant by "conditions and circumstances," Andjaba replied: "Security, of course. You know (about) the murder of the three UN personnel in West Timor."

The September killings prompted an international outcry, and a sternly-worded resolution by the Security Council calling on Jakarta to disband and disarm the militias, who are also blamed for the wave of violence that followed East Timor's independence vote last year.

The delegation, he said, could not comment on whether Indonesia had complied with the resolution, saying his talks with the government were not yet over.

But Western diplomatic sources here said the mission appeared to have found very little change in conditions in West Timor since the killings.

Andjaba, who held Thursday's talks with Indonesia's security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Attorney General Marzuki Darusman, added that they also "exchanged views on justice, reconciliation and security" issues in both East and West Timor.

Yudhoyono, in an apparent call for the resumption of UN assistance in West Timor, said that "without the presence of the UNHCR, the repatriation process of the refugees cannot possibly take place properly."

He said Indonesia wanted "the presence of international agencies or observers" when the refugees are re-registered and dismissed charges that intimidation by pro-Jakarta militias was still taking place.

Citing Jakarta's deployment of five additional batallions of police and army troops after the killings, Yudhoyono said they had "protected the refugees and improved the security conditions" in the West Timor border town of Atambua where the killings took place.

"With this condition, it is up to the Security Council and the UNHCR to reconsider (the return) of UNHCR units in West Timor."

"Of course the Indonesian government has the responsibility to protect and to provide security for the presence of all UN organizations in the area," Yudhoyono added.

The militiamen fled to West Timor last year in the face of the arrival of an international force sanctioned to halt the violence. They now live among the estimated 130,000 refugees still in the camps.

Two months ago UNHCR Asia director Francois Fouinard told AFP that assurances from Jakarta were not enough to win the return of the aid workers, and that concerete improvements must be seen.

"To start working again in West Timor, we will need to see very serious changes in circumstances, including the re-establishment of the authority of the government there," Fouinard said.

Andjaba, and the six other UNSC envoys in the delegation, travelled to Atambua on Wednesday under a heavy Indonesian military escort, the first foreign envoys to visit the border town since the murders.

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