UNTAET Daily Briefing 9 Feb 2000

Dili, 9 February 2000
SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello arrived in Dili today at 1.20 PM after his trip to Jakarta, Geneva and New York. He left Indonesia in the morning and arrived at Komoro Airport together with the Peacekeeping Force Commander, Jaime de los Santos, and the Chief of the UN Military Observers, Brigadier Rezaqul Haider.

Upon his arrival, SRSG said that he had "very good meetings" with donor countries, with all the countries that support UNTAET, and with the World Bank and the IMF.

"One of our priorities is to ensure a speed disbursement of funds under the six-month reconstruction program. We received strong assurances from our colleagues from the [World] Bank, including the president Jim Wolfensohn himself, that this will happen," the SRSG said.

"Certainly, I have received all assurances from senior officials of the [World] Bank, particularly from the president, that no effort will be spared to make sure that disbursements actually take place starting now in March."

Today, for the first time the SRSG had his passport stamped at the airport, after which he spoke to the Border Control Service officers. "We are now regulating the life of this country, re-establishing the respect for the law. I think that now we are showing to the world that things are changing, that things are evolving for the better," he said. "And that now finally one legitimate authority exists. You are the first front line. Congratulations!"

General De los Santos and Brigadier Rezaqul Haider spent three days in Indonesia where they had several meetings with the Indonesian authorities.

The Force Commander met with the Indonesian Minister of Defense, Juwono Sudarson, TNI Commander Admiral Widodo, the Army Chief of Staff, General Trasno Sudarto, and the TNI Commander for West Timor, Major General Kiki Shyanakri.

Moko Soares arrested

Interfet Commander Peter Cosgrove announced today that the notorious militia leader Moko Soares, who is believed to be behind the recent armed incursions into the enclave of Oecussi, was arrested on Monday, the 7th, at his home near the Bobometo border crossing point.

SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello expressed his satisfaction with the arrest. "I had discussed this with governor Tallo [of West Timor], with general Syahnakri, [TNI commander], with foreign minister Shihab, and I received assurances from all of them that they would indeed apprehend this gentleman and look into his past record. I was informed this morning by the chief of police in Kupang that he is being charged with illegal possession and sale of weapons, which we certainly welcome because we knew that this is what he had been up to," SRSG said.

General Cosgrove was informed by TNI that when Moko Soares was arrested he had "weapons and some items of ammunitions." He is currently being held in Kefa, West Timor, on charges of illegal possession of weapons.

CivPol to carry side arms

UNTAET CivPol will tomorrow start issuing its officers with side arms for the first time.

UNTAET is a mission where the CivPol officers are authorized to carry arms, and the Police Commissioner Carlos Lima, following the security concerns raised by the CivPol officers after the recent violent incidents, has decided to implement this aspect of the Civpol's mandate.

CivPol officers, who are trained in weapon handling, will have to undergo additional tests to ensure their familiarity and ability to safely handle the weapons. According to CivPol's Rules of Engagement, the weapons can only be used in the case of immediate life threat to a CivPol officer or a third person.

The regional commanders will be empowered to make the decision whether officers will be allowed to carry the weapons 24 hours a day or only while on duty. In that case, the weapons would be stored in a station safe for the rest of the day.

The first officers to be armed will be those on duty in the Dili Detention Center. The issuing of weapons should be completed by the beginning of March.

Some 130 police officers are expected to arrive to Dili and join UNTAET CivPol by Saturday, 12th of February. This will bring the total number of CivPol Officers on the ground to over 600. The arriving police officers will be coming from Portugal (39), Bangladesh (33), Egypt (6), Jordan (50), USA (4) and Brazil (2).

Case of hemorrhagic dengue fever reported in Dili

The first case of hemorrhagic dengue fever was recorded in Dili last week. A seven-year old girl from Lahane, a suburb of Dili, was admitted to the ICRC hospital last Thursday and diagnosed with the disease.

The next day, Oxfam sent 20 personnel to the suburb. They emptied all water containers within 100 meters of the child's house and explained to the residents of the neighborhood that the disease is spread by a particular kind of mosquito that breeds in water. They also warned that the mosquito can breed in flowerpots, coconut's shells or empty cans of soft drinks.

In East Timor, Dengue fever is considered endemic. The mortality rate is low although the disease debilitates the organism. There are four different types of dengue fever. The main concern in the case of this child is that to have hemorrhagic dengue fever she previously had to have other type of dengue fever. In the case of hemorrhagic dengue fever, the mortality rate is considered very high: 10%.

Tomorrow the dengue and malaria taskforce from UNTAET humanitarian pillar will hold a workshop for doctors, nurses and health workers. NGOs Merlin and World Health Organization organized the workshop.

UNTAET and other agencies are also organizing a public campaign to be launched before the end of the month. All the technical information about the disease including the prevention guidelines is being translated to Tetum to be given to teachers, priests and scouts. The goal is to reach all 13 districts of East Timor. The educational material in English is being distributed to health workers, teachers and NGOs. Also, announcements on UNTAET radio are being produced.

250 Portuguese troops arrived

The first batch of 250 Portuguese troops arrived today in Dili to take up the command of the Central Sector of East Timor. The second batch, which will bring the Portuguese contribution to 500 troops, is expected to arrive tomorrow.

By the end of February, the last 200 Portuguese troops will be deployed, while a ship with their remaining equipment is under way. The total of the battalion is 765 troops.

The Portuguese battalion will be headquartered at Becora, the former Escola Tecnica of Dili, and the hand-over ceremony is expected to be on the 14th of February. Central Sector includes Dili, Liquica, Ermera, Ainaro, Aileu and Manufahi.

Buffalo deaths in Viqueque

The Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO) confirmed the preliminary diagnosis of the recent death of 100 buffalo in Delor, a Viqueque sub-district. From the description of the symptoms sent to FAO headquarters in Rome the specialists confirmed the cause of deaths as haemorrhagic septicemia.

The disease is endemic In East Timor. It normally appears at the beginning of the rainy season, has a peak in January-February and then recedes. Previous year's vaccinations took place before the rainy season. Vaccinations weren't performed this year.