Subject: LUSA: Defense force chief concerned at lack of quarters, equipment

21-02-2003 15:52:00. Notícia nº SIR-4699632…

East Timor: Defense force chief concerned at lack of quarters, equipment

Dili, Feb. 21 (Lusa) - A year after taking on responsibility for security in East Timor the new nation's defense force faces severe logistical shortages, its commanding officer said Friday.

Brig. Gen. Taur Matan Ruak of the East Timor Defense Force (ETDF) told Lusa his troops face a particular lack of equipment and facilities in the eastern district of Lospalos.

The 450-strong 1st Battalion of the ETDF is still waiting for pledged international aid to build a new barracks in Timor's second city, Baucau, said Matan Ruak, adding the troops were currently living in tents left by Korean UN peacekeepers.

"At the last meeting with the battalion commander it was decided to send soldiers home if conditions don't improve", he said.

The ETDF chief said he had no criticisms to level at overseas donors who had not yet delivered promised aid to the Timorese military, saying instead that they should give "what they can".

"This government is lucky to have men used to making sacrifices", said the Brigadier General.

ASP/CJB -Lusa-

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