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Last Updated: Friday, 20 May, 2005, 01:44 GMT 02:44 UK
UN peacekeepers leave East Timor
By Rachel Harvey
BBC News, Jakarta

Nearly 800 of Portuguese United Nations peacekeepers, leaving from East Timor, line up to receive their U.N. service medals in Dili, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2001.
UN blue berets have been helping keep East Timor stable for six years
United Nations peacekeepers are leaving East Timor as part of a major scaling-down of the UN mission there.

The UN has been supporting East Timor ever since its decision to break away from Indonesia and become an independent country in 1999.

The referendum was marked by violence which left around 1,500 people dead.

After two years under UN administration, East Timor finally became the world's newest nation. But it is still struggling to stand alone.

At one time, there were around 9,000 UN peacekeepers serving in East Timor. Now the final 1,300 are packing up and pulling out.

Six years after they were first deployed, the UN Security Council has decided the blue berets are no longer needed, but a small team of advisers is being retained for one more year.

The world's youngest country has come a long way since the bloody violence which marked its decision to break away from Indonesia in 1999.

Pro-Jakarta militias - widely believed to have been backed by Indonesian security forces - left a legacy of mass murder, forced deportations and a shattered infrastructure.

East Timor's road to recovery has been long and hard.

The economy, based largely around coffee, oil and gas exports, is not yet creating enough jobs. The nascent police force is still learning its trade. And only about a quarter of the suspects indicting for involvement in the 1999 violence have been brought to trial.

East Timor and Indonesia have recently set up a new Truth and Friendship Commission, but it will not have a mandate to bring prosecutions.

Six years on, the two governments are keen to forge a new relationship for the future, even if that means putting the issue of justice to one side.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the violence during East Timor's bid for independance



SEE ALSO:
Indonesia and E Timor heal wounds
09 Apr 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Justice for Timor war criminals?
18 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific
East Timor's unfinished business
05 Nov 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Timeline: East Timor
13 Nov 03 |  Country profiles
Country profile: East Timor
13 Nov 03 |  Country profiles


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