Timor-Leste: airport reopens after UN helps curb gang violence

26 October 2006
UN police force intervenes to help stop fighting

Timor-Leste’s airport reopened today after the United Nations police force helped end fighting between gangs and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the small South-East Asian nation that was shaken earlier this year by violence attributed to differences between eastern and western regions.

The Police Unit of the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) two days ago intervened to prevent the groups from attacking each other in the vicinity of the airport.

As UNMIT continues its efforts to strengthen political stability in the young nation that the UN shepherded to independence from Indonesia just four years ago, the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) said UN police now number 860, out of a total mandated complement of 1,608.

The Security Council created the expanded UNMIT in August to help restore order after a crisis erupted in April with the firing of 600 striking soldiers, a third of the armed forces. Ensuing violence claimed at least 37 lives and drove 155,000 people, 15 per cent of the total population, from their homes.


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