Violence in East Timor causes United Nations evacuation

Monday, May 29, 2006

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Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: 2006 East Timor crisis

An upsurge in violence in East Timor has made the United Nations evacuate hundreds of staff members and families from the country.

Sukehiro Hasegawa, the Special Representative to Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Dili said, "A temporary relocation for non-essential staff is the most judicious choice at this time."

The decision comes after the Australian-led peacekeeping operation and the East Timorese government struggled to contain unrest in Dili, the country's capital.

Gang members, some wielding machetes, have been fighting along ethnic lines. There also has been looting and buildings have been razed.

Staff members and families will be relocated to Darwin, Australia. Over 100 United Nations staff will remain in East Timor awaiting the arrival of more Australian peacekeeping forces.

The peacekeeping operation began after an appeal by the government for international help. Australian forces are part of the multinational force that numbers over 2000 military personnel.

The peacekeepers say they do not directly engage in combat. This brought confusion from one child who said, "Why aren't the Australians doing anything?"

The Australian Prime Minister John Howard said, "It's a trickier operation than some people think, nobody should assume that it's just a simple walk-in-the-park military operation -- it's quite challenging."