HC Deb 08 November 1999 vol 337 cc399-400W
28. Mr. Savidge

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the current security situation in East Timor. [96150]

Mr. Hoon

The security situation in East Timor is much improved. The Australian-led International Force in East Timor (INTERFET) has now reached a total strength of 8,100 personnel, and includes significant contributions from Canada, Fiji, South Korea, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand, UK and the US. INTERFET has a firm base in Dili and is operating patrols along the border with West Timor. Remaining militia on the eastern side of the island, together with those based in West Timor, are still a cause for concern. The Indonesian Armed Forces have been co-operative. Some refugees have returned as peace is being restored. British Army Gurkhas have played an important role from the start of INTERFET operations in East Timor, and most recently in the Ambeno enclave. Gurkhas have been involved in conducting security patrols, facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance and providing medical relief.

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