5 February 2007While the overall situation in Timor-Leste has improved over the past six months, the security situation remains volatile and the political climate is constantly changing, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, recommending that the United Nations mission in the impoverished nation be extended for another year. In his latest report to the Security Council, covering the period from last August to 26 January this year, Mr. Ban says that the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) has made “substantial progress” towards improving law enforcement, preparing for this year’s planned elections and in other areas, although “much remains to be done.”“The overall situation in Timor-Leste has improved, although the security situation in the country remains volatile and the political climate fluid… The judicial sector, a key component of the rule of law, remains weak in a number of areas, and UNMIT, together with many partners in the wider international community, stands ready to assist in strengthening it,” he writes.“In my view, an extension of the UNMIT mandate for a period of 12 months would send an important signal of the willingness of the Security Council to sustain its commitment to Timor-Leste,” states Mr. Ban, adding that he also supports the Timorese Government’s request for more UN Police to be deployed during the electoral period.The Security Council created UNMIT in August to help restore order after fighting, attributed to differences between eastern and western regions, broke out in April and May and led to the deaths of at least 37 people and forced about 155,000 people – or 15 per cent of the population – to flee their homes. UNMIT’s present mandate expires on 25 February.As of 26 January, UNMIT consisted of a civilian component made up of 156 international staff members, 382 national staff and 1,313 police officers, as well as 33 military liaison and staff officers. UNPOL (UN Police) are implementing screening and mentoring programmes for the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) under a deal signed last December in which the UN has full responsibility for policing.Low-level violence, much of it involving gangs in the capital Dili, has continued and last week more than 100 UNPOL officers, backed by troops from the International Security Forces (ISF), arrested around 50 gang members from two neighbourhoods in the capital, and confiscated homemade firearms, machetes, Molotov cocktails and other weapons.In his report, Mr. Ban writes that until the PNTL is “fully reconstituted and developed,” it will be important to maintain sufficient numbers of UNMIT police, but he also stressed the need for full involvement by the Timorese authorities in the security and other sectors, as he also called for international donors to keep up their support for the tiny nation.“In order to be sustainable in the long run, the efforts in the political and security sector spheres need to enjoy the full ownership and acceptance of the Timorese stakeholders. They also need to be underpinned by tangible progress and dividends in economic and social development.”“For the time being, however, the humanitarian challenge still exceeds the Government’s capacity. I welcome, therefore, the new consolidated appeal covering the first six months of 2007. The international donor community was generous in supporting humanitarian assistance to Timor-Leste in 2006. It is hoped that donors will consider contributing towards the 2007 appeal with the same generosity.”

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