26 December 2008

Australian Government maintains warning on East Timor stability

In the wake of a supposed leaked UN report stating that East Timor was on the brink of anarchy (see this post), and subsequent denials by the East Timor government about the political and social stability in the country (see this post), the Australian government maintains a warning to Australian citizens to reconsider the need to travel to East Timor. The following excerpts are from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's smarttraveller.org.au :

We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to East Timor at this time because of the fragile security situation and the risk of violent civil unrest. The situation could deteriorate without warning.

If you decide to travel to East Timor, you should exercise extreme caution. Violence could occur anywhere at any time in East Timor. Food and fuel shortages or price increases may trigger civil unrest. You should take particular care to avoid demonstrations, street rallies and public gatherings as they may turn violent and you could get caught up in attacks directed at others.

You should check the security situation with the United Nations Police (UNPOL). See Local Travel below for contact details.

Violent disturbances could erupt in Dili without notice. Known trouble spots include Nicolau Lobato Airport and its surrounds, Bebonuk including the Comoro River, Bairo Pite, Tasi Tolu, Aitarak Laran, the Comoro Market area and internally displaced people's (IDP) camps. You should exercise extreme caution if passing through these areas.

You should avoid all areas where military operations are known or likely to occur.

There have been several recent altercations between groups of people at nightclubs. You should take particular care and remain aware of your surroundings if you go to such venues.

There is a history of incidents of gang-related violence, armed robbery, arson, assault and vandalism in Dili. Cars have been attacked with potentially lethal stones and darts fired from slingshots, particularly during the early evening and at night. You should also avoid armed irregular groups, including martial arts groups, both in Dili and the districts. Bag-snatching is common.

Medical facilities are limited and evacuation may be required in cases of serious illness or accident.

Because of the uncertain security situation, we strongly recommend that you register your travel and contact details with us, so we can contact you in an emergency.

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