/** ips.english: 425.0 **/

** Topic: //UPDATE//EAST TIMOR: UN Pulls Out Most Staff from Compound **
** Written 9:09 PM Sep 10, 1999 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **
Copyright 1999 InterPress Service, all rights reserved.
Worldwide distribution via the APC networks.

*** 10-Sep-99 ***

Title: //UPDATE//EAST TIMOR: UN Pulls Out Most Staff from Compound

JAKARTA, Sep 10 (IPS) - Most United Nations staff evacuated their besieged compound in the East Timorese capital of Dili on Friday, with a view to leaving behind a skeleton contingent that both the UN and the Indonesian government want kept running.

The UN does not want to leave completely to indicate that it was not abandoning the East Timorese after the Aug 30 ballot, while the Indonesian government seems aware that a pullout would further hurt its already tattered international image.

By Friday afternoon, some 300 people with the UN Assistance Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) were airlifted aboard Australian air force planes from Dili to Darwin in northern Australia Friday as well.

About half of the total were East Timorese staff, whose lives are especially at risk if left behind, news reports say from Australia said.

>From 50 to 80 international UN staff were likely to be kept at the Dili compound, now that the Indonesian military had given new assurances of security and after talks by the visiting UN ambassadorial team.

However, some reports from Dili claimed armed men had gone into the UN compound and threatened both UN staff and refugees still there.

Earlier, UN secretary general Kofi Annan said reports from Dili ''have indicated that the situation was relatively peaceful last night''.

On Friday, Australian Prime Minister John Howard said ''the deterioration has stopped''. As for the situation in the UN compound, he added: ''The situation on the ground is a little less difficult. I don't want to put it any more strongly than that.''

The fact that East Timorese had been able to leave Dili aboard the planes indicated that ''there seems to be a greater level of cooperation between the UN people and the Indonesian authorities'', he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Friday.

The UN pullout was earlier scheduled to have begun on Thursday, but was pushed back as staffers said they could not leave East Timorese refugees in the compound to be killed.

Agreement has since been reached with the Indonesian military and the UN to allow the refugees sheltering at the compound to be safely evacuated to Dare town 10 km from the capital.

Earlier estimates said there were still 1,000 refugees there, but the numbers continued to dwindle as many fled for fear of attacks once most of the UN workers left.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said in New York the UN was determined to ''maintain'' its premises in East Timor and UN officials were Dili said they hoped to be able to function if the security situation indeed improves under a new military commander for the territory.

Indonesian officials say the situation in East Timor had eased a bit on Thursday, and indeed UN officials said a relief flight from Darwin with fresh supplies had arrived the same day.

Even then, Alan Mills of the UN civilian police contingent, said there was no room for complacence and said the militias had ''looted two of our warehouses in the last two days''.

UN officials in Dili Friday morning said they continued to hear gunshots.

The UN has also told foreign journalists still in the compound to leave and join the evacuation.

A five-member UN ambassadorial team met with Defense Minister Gen Wiranto -- who pledged to do what all needed so that UNAMET could stay in East Timor -- on Friday.

Despite skepticism about assurances by Indonesian officials, that pledge was seen here as perhaps an ever-so-slight easing of the hard line Indonesian attitudes stoked by calls for international intervention.

At a meeting with the UN team Thursday, Foreign Minister Ali Alatas also reportedly asked what requirements the UN had for foreign troops to escort humanitarian relief supplies.

The group also met on Friday East Timorese leader Jose Alexandre 'Xanana' Gusmao, whose father Manuel had been killed by pro-Jakarta militia members in Dili this week. Gusmao on Friday confirmed the death, which was reported by the Portuguese news agency Lusa on Thursday.

Shedding tears, he said: ''I am not crying for my father only. I am crying for all Timorese people.''

Meantime, East Timorese leader Jose Ramos Horta arrived in Auckland, New Zealand in a bid to lobby support for an international force among Asia-Pacific leaders gathering for an economic summit on Sep 12- 13.

Flying in from the US, Ramos Horta said: ''This is a genocide at the end of the 21st century.''

The Alliance of Independent Journalists in Jakarta expressed fears for eight Indonesian journalists who had been missing since the imposition of martial law in East Timor on Tuesday.

''All of them are missing and according to some reports, they were captured by the military,'' the AJI's Ging Ginanjar said in a message to media organisations.

Already more than 200,000 people in East Timor, with a population of 800,000, have been displaced, fled or gone into west Timor.

Hundreds are believed to have been killed in little more than a week since 78.5 percent of East Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia, triggering a wave of revenge killings, burning and looting by pro- Indonesia militia, and witnesses say, members of the Indonesian army itself. (END/IPS/ap-ip-hd/bb-js/js/99)

Origin: Rome///UPDATE//EAST TIMOR/ ----

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