Magazine article UN Chronicle

East Timor

Magazine article UN Chronicle

East Timor

Article excerpt

Secretary-General Kofi Annan visited East Timor on 17 and 18 February. Saying that the devastation was "far worse" than he had imagined, Mr. Annan paid tribute to UN staff in East Timor who were helping to rebuild the ravaged territory.

On 4 February, the Secretary-General's Special Representative and head of the United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET), Sergio Vieira de Mello, warned the Security Council that funds were needed immediately to avoid an outbreak of social strife in the territory. Humanitarian assistance had brought some relief, but poverty was now "calamitous," owing to the extent of destruction, lack of opportunity to earn a living and high prices. Some 80 per cent of the population had lost their means of support. Mr. Vieira de Mello said a priority in the coming months would be to create employment and provide public services while supporting the reintegration of displaced persons. Projects funded by the World Bank would not begin for some time, thus UNTAET faced several months during which it would be unable to begin badly needed reconstruction projects. The World Bank estimates that East Timor will need up to $300 million over the next three years to rebuild itself.

UNTAET was now operating throughout East Timor, and internal security had greatly improved. Mechanisms to consult with East Timorese at all levels have been established, as have the basic elements of an administrative structure. A positive development towards national reconciliation and ensuring good relations between East Timor and Indonesia was the establishment of the National Consultative Council on 2 December. The Council is the primary mechanism through which East Timorese participate in the decision-making process.

On 23 February, UNTAET took over complete command of the territory from the Australian-led International Force for East Timor (INTERFET). …

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