The International Force for East Timor
(INTERFET) was a multinational peacekeeping
taskforce, mandated by the United Nations
to address the humanitarian and security crisis which took place in East Timor
until the arrival of United Nations peacekeepers.
The International Force for East Timor was commanded by Major-General Peter Cosgrove of the Australian Army.
United Nations resolution
A UN-sponsored referendum
held on 30 August 1999
had shown overwhelming approval for East Timorese independence
. After the result was announced on 4 September
, violent clashes, instigated by a suspected anti-independence militia
, sparked a humanitarian and security crisis in the region, with Xanana Gusmão
calling for a UN peacekeeper force the same day.
Under international pressure to allow an international peacekeeping force, Indonesian president BJ Habibie announced on 12 September that he would do so.
On 15 September 1999, the United Nations Security Council expressed concern at the deteriorating situation in East Timor, and issued UNSC Resolution 1264 calling for a multinational force to restore peace and security to East Timor, to protect and support the United Nations Mission there, and to facilitate humanitarian assistance operations until such time as a United Nations peacekeeping force could be approved and deployed in the area.
The INTERFET coalition forces began deploying to East Timor on 20 September 1999
, led by a vanguard of nine warships, including N.R.P. Vasco da Gama (F330)
, HMS Glasgow
and USS Mobile Bay
. Most United Nations UNAMET
(United Nations Mission in East Timor) personnel, as well as Indonesian
military, police and administrators had already been evacuated from the region in the preceding months by the Royal Australian Air Force
and other allied air forces, including the Royal New Zealand Air Force
The arrival of thousands of international troops in East Timor caused the militia to flee across the border into Indonesia. Sporadic cross-border raids by the militia against INTERFET forces, particularly in the southern border held by the New Zealand Army, led to suspicion that the milita had the tacit support of the Indonesian military.
Five months later, on 28 February 2000, INTERFET handed over command of military operations to UNTAET (United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor).
Countries contributing to INTERFET
provided the largest contingent of troops, hardware and equipment for the INTERFET operation, followed by New Zealand
Other countries to contribute were (in alphabetical order), Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Malaysia, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States of America.
Notes & references
- Martin, Ian; Alexander Mayer-Rieckh (2005). "The United Nations and East Timor: From Self-Determination to State-Building". International Peacekeeping 12 (1): 125–145.