/** reg.easttimor: 3770.0 **/
** Topic: UN observer sounds alarm over absence of men among E. Timor refugees **
** Written 7:39 PM Sep 15, 1999 by Joyo@aol.com in cdp:reg.easttimor **
Subject: UN observer sounds alarm over absence of men among E. Timor refugees
UN observer sounds alarm over absence of men among E. Timor refugees
OTTAWA, Sept 15 (AFP) - Canadian diplomat Ken Sunquist, who was part of a UN delegation which visited refugee camps in West Timor, sounded the alarm over the absence of men among East Timor refugees Wednesday.
"It looked very strange to see maybe 25,000 people in the streets of the camps," and only a "marginal" number of men, Canada's ambassador to Indonesia said in a conference call from Jakarta.
"I was stunned by the fact that the overwhelmingly vast majority of the people are children under the age of 15 or older women of the age 60-plus. " You hardly see any men between the ages of 16 and 45 or 50," he continued, adding "there has been some separation of the men from the rest of refugees."
The observers, the first UN personnel authorised to visit the camps in a trip Tuesday, were extremely concerned about their fate, he stressed.
According to the refugees in the camps, many men were separated from their wives and children at the border between East and West Timor by Indonesian soldiers. Observers were not able to determine why.
Other refugees said the men fled into the hills of the troubled province after seeing their families safely aboard ships bound for West Timor.
Ottawa will announce Friday its contribution to a multinational peacekeeping force to be deployed in the devastated province this weekend.
Canadian Defence Minister Art Eggleton indicated Tuesday that it was likely to put up 250 soldiers -- half the number suggested Saturday by Prime Minister Jean Chretien in Auckland -- as well as two Hercules carriers and a supply ship.
** End of text from cdp:reg.easttimor **