Incident Date: 6 September 1999
Hazard Type: Civil Unrest
Summary: The result of the United Nations sponsored popular consultation on a special autonomy for East Timor within the Republic of Indonesia, held on 30 August, was announced on Saturday 4 September. The outcome supported independence for East Timor and the days following the announcement saw an increasing level of civil unrest from pro-Indonesian elements.
As the situation in East Timor worsened, the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) requested Australian assistance with the departure of non-essential staff from the East Timor. Assistance was also provided to Australian nationals and other approved persons. On Friday 10 September, 347 personnel arrived in Darwin, including 284 UNAMET staff and family members. On 14 September, approximately 1450 East Timorese were evacuated from the United Nations compund in Dili, along with several UNAMET staff and other persons.
On arrival, East Timorese refugees were accommodated in Safe Havens at Leeuwin Barracks, Perth, Puckapunyal Barracks in Victoria and East Hills in Sydney. Repatriation of refugees commenced on 28 October, with those refugees remaining at the Leeuwin and Puckapunyal Barracks Safe Havens being transferred to East Hills to consolidate numbers. Approximately 800 East Timorese refugees remain in Australia awaiting repatriation.
EMA involvement: EMA's involvement in Operation Safe Haven has ceased. No further updates will be made to this page. For further information, please visit the Operation Safe Haven website on the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs' website.