Timor-Leste: Dili calmer, but protection concerns remain

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 30 June 2006, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Dili is a little calmer today following an incident-free night. While several thousand demonstrators from the eastern regions stayed in the capital overnight following yesterday's organized protests, there were no incidents reported, with international security forces keeping a tight lid of security. The 3,000 or so protesters on some 150 trucks have now left Dili and are on their way back to the eastern regions of the country.

Over recent days, a number of displaced people have been subject to intimidation and aggression by provocateurs, politically-motivated demonstrators and street gangs, and UNHCR protection officers continue to visit areas affected by the unrest. While the rapid response of Australian forces has helped contain hostilities, the feeling of insecurity among the displaced remains high, and there is no sense yet that people are ready to return to their homes. A critical element of UNHCR's protection strategy is ongoing and close liaison with international military and police forces for the physical protection of displaced people in the 56 makeshift encampments around Dili. Because incidents in a particular suburb impact upon nearby IDP sites, UNHCR has asked the foreign troops to also include a visit to any nearby IDP sites when they investigate incidents in the suburbs.

UNHCR welcomes the pending arrival of the Malaysian contingent of additional police forces over the coming week, which will boost the international police presence to 500 officers and contribute to an easing of problems at night. Meanwhile, UNHCR continues to distribute relief items to displaced people. To date, we have distributed over 1,900 tents to 20 sites in Dili and three sites just outside the capital in nearby Hera and Metinaro. In addition, a total of 1,428 jerry cans, 17,335 blankets and 2,523 plastic sheets have been given to people in various makeshift encampments. A second tranche of relief items, including 15,000 blankets, 850 tents and 30 plastic rolls, has arrived by air in Darwin, and is expected to arrive in Dili by ship on 4 July.