East Timor: UNAMET Daily Briefing Summary: 15 Sep 1999

News and Press Release
Originally published
Press conference with David Wimhurst
Darwin, 15 September 1999, 12:00PM

I had hoped to persuade Mr. Martin to come and talk to you this morning but unfortunately he's up to his neck in work. He asks to be excused and sends his apologies. I'll just give you the small amount of information that I have.
The Security Council is actually meeting in New York as we speak it's been in consultation for several hours they are considering a draft resolution for the deployment of a multi-national force it is not yet clear whether that discussion will end conclusively today with the adoption of the resolution or whether it will continue tomorrow. It is now 10:30PM in New York.

The second piece of news I have is that discussions are going on in Jakarta between the coordinators of the humanitarian effort including UNDP, the United Nations Development Program and the Indonesian authorities finalizing arrangements for the rapid delivery of humanitarian assistance to refugees by air drop and it is expected or hoped that could begin tomorrow.

I phoned just recently about an hour ago or less I spoke to our new compound in Dili, our small, reduced compound and things there appear to be quiet. There is no more as far as we know in Dare the situation is relatively quiet. There is a lot of fear among the refugees there but it is quiet for the time being and our people are out looking at the warehouse and inspecting various facilities in the town and that's all the information I have right now.

Q: Do you have any news about the compound?

It's been vandalized but it has not been burnt.

Q: Have you got the latest reports on the suspected Militia who may have come in on the evacuation from Dili?

There are a number of people who came in on the flight from Dili who, as you point out, are suspected by other refugees to be members of Militia. They have all been isolated and they are being held seperately by the authorities in a safe location.

Q: Do you know how many there are?

I understand there are about five.

Q: Which authorities are holding them?

The Australian authorities.

Q: Do you know which particular Australian authorities?

I'm not going to go into details - they are not being held either in the reception area or in the stadium they're being held seperately and they are being investigated and that's as much as I can say at the moment.

This is entirely in the hands of the Australian authorities.

Q: Any theories on why they might have come out to Darwin?

Well it's possible if indeed they are members of the militia, it's very possible that they might have infiltrated the compound and were carried out with the rest of the refugees.

Q: Are there any sactions of the refugees against their participating in any political activity here?

Not as far as I know. Once they've cleared the necessary legal process of quarentine medical inspection which takes a number of days. They are then free to participate in normal life. Some of them as you know have moved out to hotels.

Q: And that includes political protests that they, um...

They are free to conduct their activities as they wish.

Q: Are you aware of any warnings to them that may have taken place?

I'm not aware of any such warnings, no. I was phoned and told there is a rumor - and this is a rumor and as such untrue, it is an unfounded rumor - that any of those people who speak publically will be deported. That is not true - some sort of rumor is going around to that effect. I've spoken to the police authorities and we will make an announcement to them that this is not the case.

Q: Will there be any more evacuation flights today?

No there were no more flights today.

Q: When was the last flight that left yesterday?

The last flight I believe came in at shortly before four o'clock yesterday afternoon.

Q: ...stockpile supplies for the aircraft?

No, the only thing I know is that - and that you should get from UNHCR - there is a UNHCR representative in town who is putting the food into that warehouse. I know a jumbo came in yesterday. I don't know exactly what was onboard but there are further supplies going into the warehouse.

Q: Will they going to West Timor too and do you have any update on the refugees in West Timor.

No, in West Timor I don't, but it is clear that humanitarian aid also has to go into West Timor urgently.

Q: Can you say precisely what assurances have been sought from the Indonesian authorities before the food drops and whether they are likely to get them?

No, this is simply making the final arrangement to move that stuff by air as rapidly as possible. All I can tell you is that it's expected to go tomorrow.

Q: Is there any question about Peace Keeping Forces being deployed in West Timor now?

It depends on what the resolution says but as far as I know it is a resolution that addresses the issues in East Timor but I don't have the details yet.

Q: Have you heard any further reports of bodies being dumped into the sea?

No I haven't.

Q: If the resolution is passed what is the earliest the Peace Keeping Force might go in?

That is a question only the military can answer and those who are planning this mission can answer. I've not really had any discussion with them so I don't know.

Q: Have you heard any other reports from outside of the Dili area?

In Dare the people there are extremely anxious. They are concerned about an attack but so far it's quiet.

Q: David, have there been any decisions made about the future of UNAMET?

We're going to maintain our presence here in Darwin and we will go back to East Timor as soon as we can once the security situation has been stablized by the multi-national force. We don't know how long that will take, we don't know how long that will be but we are maintaining ourselves here in readiness for that.

Q: Are you frustrated at the pace of the Security Council negotiations?

Well they are not negotiations, they are consultations, and we are now Wednesday right? The deligation that visited Dili got back to New York on Monday or early Tuesday and this is the second round of the consultations and as far as I understand they are still talking and there could be a decision tonight so it's been pretty fast.

Q: Could you say was the baby born yet?

On the baby, she went into labor but it seems to be some sort of premature labor and there has been no birth. She's still in hospital.

We're trying to find baby Pedro Unamet. We're looking for him. We're not quite sure where he is at the moment.