Subject: DPA: UN forces in East Timor say they cannot help Indonesia

Deutsche Presse-Agentur September 9, 2000

U.N. forces in East Timor say they cannot help Indonesia Jakarta/New York

United Nations officials in East Timor said Saturday that the 7,000-plus peacekeepers stationed there cannot help Indonesia restore order in its restive West Timor province, with one official saying he doubted a proposed joint military operation would work.

The comments followed appeals by Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, who is in New York, for international assistance to stop rampaging militiamen opposed to East Timor's independence.

Thousands of militiamen overran the offices of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Atambua last Wednesday, killing three foreign aid workers. Later that night, 11 people were killed in clashes between militiamen and local residents in the nearby town of Betun.

"It is difficult because our international friends demand us to do this and that, but they don't give us the necessary tools to operate," Wahid said during a speech at Columbia University, The Jakarta Post reported Saturday.

He appealed to foreign nations to give Indonesia money to relocate some 120,000 East Timorese refugees languishing in West Timor, either back home to U.N.-controlled East Timor or to other locations within Indonesia.

Amid repeated calls to disarm the militias, the Jakarta government has instead drawn attention to the refugees, who they say are the core problem.

Wahid did not mention any plans by the government to dis-arm the militias, who are holding most of the refugees against their will.

In New York, the U.N. Security Council on Friday condemned the killings of the aid workers and again called on Jakarta to take immediate steps to rein in and disarm the militias, which they say are the core problem.

U.S. Representative Richard Hoolbroke urged increased intervention by the thousands of international peace-keepers now stationed in East Timor. He added that the Indonesian armed forces are in charge in West Timor, where thousands of people remain in squalid refugee camps.

But with the Indonesian military, which formed the militias last year to terrorize East Timor's population, unwilling or unable to disarm them, the Jakarta government wants U.N. peacekeepers from East Timor to conduct joint patrols Indonesian soldiers along the border of West Timor.

However, Lt. Colonel Brynjar Nymo, spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping forces in East Timor, said by telephone from Dili that they could not enter East Timor even with Indonesia's approval.

"We have a very clear mandate that limits us to East Timor, and any thought of crossing the border at this time is completely out of the question," Nymo told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

He said that even if Indonesia secured agreement from the U.N. Security Council to allow peacekeepers into West Timor, it was doubtful they would come from the forces deployed in East Timor.

"I think they have to get member nations to come forward and offer troops," Nymo said.

Peter Galbraith, a deputy chief of the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor, said he doubted joint border patrols of Indonesian and U.N. forces would restore order in West Timor.

"The root of the problem is not the border, the root of the problem is the militias. The haven't been dis-armed," Galbraith said.

Indonesia has dispatched one army and one police battalion to Atambua amid reports that militiamen had set up roadblocks across the province and were searching for foreigners and extorting money from motorists.

Police in Atambua said the town was mostly quiet on Saturday, with no signs of militia activity following three days of violence.

"The situation is slowly returning the normal," said Sgt. Gusti of the Atambua police department.

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