MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
6 September 1999
East Timor - Australian Response To Security Situation
The Australian Government will assist UNAMET with the departure of a number of non-essential UNAMET personnel from East Timor. This decision responds to a formal request on the evening of 5 September from the UNAMET chief, Mr Ian Martin in Dili, to temporarily relocate some staff to Darwin in the light of the deteriorating security situation.
In a situation where commercial flight options are limited, Australian Defence Force aircraft will be despatched to Dili from this morning to uplift up to 300 non-essential staff members from the territory. The Australian Government, through our Consulate in Dili, will be providing Australian nationals currently in East Timor, as well as approved third country nationals, the option of a facilitated departure on these flights. Further flights will be provided over the next few days as required.
I deplore the serious deterioration in the security situation on the ground which has precipitated the UN's decision to drawdown some of its staff from East Timor. The impunity with which the pro-integration militias have operated throughout the territory, particularly in Dili since the announcement of the ballot result, is a matter of grave concern. The failure of the Indonesian security forces to control the situation has seriously put at risk orderly progress toward implementation of the outcome of the 30 August ballot.
I have accordingly instructed our Permanent Representative in New York to consult urgently with Security Council members to discuss the current situation in East Timor, and to explore possible options for dealing with it .
I have already spoken to Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas to inform him of the Australian Government's action, and to express the Australian Government's concern about the current security situation on the ground.
Minister - Innes Willox 02 6277 7500
Department - Mark Croxford 02 6261 1555
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