Subject: Appeals for UN mandate to be extended to West Timor
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 08:08:52 EDT

Appeals for UN mandate to be extended to West Timor

JAKARTA, Sept 16 (AFP) - A community leader has appealed for the mandate of the multinational force for East Timor to be extended to cover Indonesian West Timor, warning the region faces the same fate as the devastated East.

"It is essential that the UN mandate be extended to all of Timor," the source, who pleaded not to be identified, said in a letter, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.

He cited fears that the flood of "disappointed, undisciplined and humiliated" militias flowing into the western half of the island with the refugees from the East will lead to "a new reign of terror".

The three-page letter, dated September 15, carried a request that it be forwarded to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

"As a result of recent developments, it has become essential that the international community foresee the humanitarian problem of the whole island of Timor and not just East Timor alone," the letter said.

"To prevent further massive slaughter of innocent civilians, the widespread destruction of property, the looting of possessions and the permanent dissolution of East Timorese familes, it is essential that the mandate be extended," he added.

The call came as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) aired concerns that the aid it wants to send to the 150,000 East Timorese refugees who have flooded into West Timor could end up in the hands of the militias.

"We are hearing credible reports that the militia are controlling the camps in West Timor," UNHCR spokesman Fernando del Mundo told AFP here.

"We don't want the same thing that happened in Goma when the UNHCR was criticized for 'feeding the butchers'," Del Mundo said, refering to the Hutu-controlled camps in Goma during the 1994-96 Rwanda crisis.

He cited reports from the West Timorese border town of Atambua, which said the refugees were living in "fear and insecurity" terrorized by the militia.

Separate reports from journalists and the church have said that the pro-Indonesian militias, who went on an orgy of killing in East Timor after it voted for independence on August 30, have started regrouping in the west.

Del Mundo said the UNHCR wanted to conduct a proper assessment of conditions in the West Timor camps before making a decision on the aid, but to do that it needed firm security guarantees from the Indonesian government.

The UNHCR's first attempt to check on the conditions the refugees were living in was thwarted last week when the delegation was stoned at a camp in the city of Kupang, and their vehicle burned.

Detailing the problems West Timor was already facing as the refugees pour in from the East -- many of them reportedly deported by force by military ship and plane -- the source said there was an urgent need for tents, water storage tanks and food.

Calling the conditions in the camps "appalling", the letter said the refugees were living "in fear and insecurity as armed militia roam the area, terrorizing them and the local population while seeking out and removing certain individuals."

What happened to those taken away, it said, was unknown.

One of the last pleas in the letter was for aid agencies to supply money for coffins "to avoid adding shame to the grief" of those unable to afford a proper burial for their murdered relatives.


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