Indonesia has announced it will impose no conditions on the make-up of the United Nations peacekeeping force in East Timor. It had earlier voiced opposition to the inclusion of troops from Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Portugal. The UN Security Council is due later tonight to begin discussing which countries will participate in the mission and a timescale for its deployment. The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has said that he is determined that an international peacekeeping force should enter East Timor as quickly as possible.
Earlier today, Indonesia gave the go-ahead for the UN to begin airdropping relief supplies to starving refugees sheltering in the hills of East Timor. The UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, says that the airdrops are expected to begin tomorrow. Hundreds of thousands of East Timorese have fled to the mountains outside the capital Dili, following the campaign of terror and intimidation by pro-Indonesian militias over the past week. The UN Mission in East Timor has said that it fears for their survival after reports emerged that they had little water and were surviving on leaves and root.
European Union Foreign Ministers have welcomed Indonesia's decision to invite international peacekeepers to East Timor. At their meeting in Brussels, the Ministers called for urgent humanitarian aid to be sent to the territory to avert starvation. The United Nations has estimated that over 100,000 refugees are displaced within East Timor.
Mary Robinson has said that Indonesia's armed forces appeared to have organised the mass bloodshed in the region after it voted overwhelmingly for independence. She told a news conference in Jakarta that the killing appears to have been systematic. Mrs. Robinson said that she had received many harrowing reports, including of rape and systematic evictions, when she talked to UN staff, who had been evacuated to the Australian city of Darwin.
She has recommended that a panel of experts set up an inquiry as to whether or not there should be some sort of international tribunal. After meeting the Indonesian President B.J. Habibie today, Mrs. Robinson said she was impressed by his expressed support for the issues of human rights.