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UN concerned over flare-up in East Timor violence

Written by: Staff

GENEVA, Sep 1 (Reuters) East Timor's capital Dili has suffered a troubling escalation in violence in recent days, the United Nations refugee agency said today.

The president of East Timor last week suspended emergency measures introduced on May 30 to quell a wave of violence, arson and looting that killed at least 20 people in Asia's newest democracy between April and June.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Ron Redmond said there were signs of increasing polarisation of communities in and around Dili, where some displaced persons living in camps feared night-time attacks.

Redmond said the United Nations agency was ''very concerned'' at the renewed tension around Dili, where some 67,900 people driven from their homes by the conflict still live in makeshift camps, church grounds and public buildings.

''There is a clear need for an ongoing strong and robust security presence until national institutions can be rebuilt,'' Redmond told journalists.

Another 78,000 people are living with host families outside Dili, the UNHCR said, citing official estimates.

President Xanana Gusmao said on August. 22 that while the situation remained ''vulnerable'' in East Timor, the chaos sparked by a split in the country's armed forces had largely eased since the arrival of a 2,500-strong Australian-led intervention force.


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