|Subject: 100,000 Timorese in Emergency
Camps: UN [+Aussies May Stay 6 Months]
East Timor unrest drives 100,000 people into camps
SYDNEY, May 31 (Bloomberg): East Timor's civil unrest drove 100,000 people from their homes to emergency camps where United Nations efforts to provide food and other aid are being hampered by overcrowding, the UN said.
About 65,000 people are sheltering in camps around the capital, Dili, which has a population of 150,000 people, the UN said on its Web site. The World Food Program has supplied food aid for about 95,000 displaced East Timorese, it said.
At least 20 people were killed in violence in the past week in Dili and surrounding areas involving armed gangs and East Timorese security forces. Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Portugal have sent soldiers and police officers to take oversecurity in the capital.
East Timor, or Timor-Leste, a country of about 1 million people, became independent in May 2002 after people voted for independence in a 1999 referendum following a 24-year occupation by Indonesia. President Xanana Gusmao yesterday declared a 30-daystate of emergency and took over control of the army, Agence France-Presse reported.
The unrest began with riots in Dili by former soldiers angry at the government's dismissal of about 600 servicemen, about one-third of the armed forces, for desertion. East Timor's Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri asked for international help last week asviolence escalated between armed groups over allegeddiscrimination against soldiers from the western region by officers from the east of the country.
A 2,200-strong peacekeeping force, including 1,300 soldiers from Australia, is in East Timor.
Australian military plans to be in East Timor for 6 months
CANBERRA, May 31 (AP): Australia may keep soldiers in East Timor for another six months on a peacekeeping mission to curb unrest that has left 27 people dead, the Australian military chief said Wednesday.
Australia committed 2,000 military personnel to East Timor, including 1,300 front-line troops, after Dili asked for help from Canberra as well as Malaysia, Portugal and New Zealand to quell the violence.
The unrest in East Timor began after a rebellion by dismissed soldiers last week. The recent bloodshed has raised concerns that East Timor is plunging into a civil war, seven years after its traumatic break from Indonesia's rule.
Chief of the Defense Force Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston told a Senate committee hearing Wednesday he was planning to keep soldiers in East Timor for six months in "worst-case circumstances."
"We plan for six months, but it is up to government to determine how long we go for," Houston told the committee.Houston said he hoped to scale down Australia's troop presence as conditions stabilize in East Timor.
What began in recent months as a schism within the armed forces spilled over in the past week to the general population, which is divided on geographical lines of east and west, or those perceived to have been pro-Indonesian against those who wantedindependence.
Houston described some of the chaos as organized, but not from outside the country. He declined to speculate on who was organizing the gangs and why.
"I think there are some gangs out there and I think those gangs are being organized," Houston said. "And I think there's also criminals who are exploiting the circumstances to pursue petty crime."
------------------ Joyo Indonesia News Service