East Timor hits out at UN report

File image of a woman washing clothes in Dili, East Timor, on 11 April 2007 The UNDP flagged up high levels of poverty and unemployment in East Timor

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East Timor has criticised the UN Development Programme over a draft report that accuses the government of not doing enough to tackle poverty and prosecute war criminals.

The UNDP acknowledged that substantial progress has been made since East Timor gained independence in 2002.

But it also criticised the high levels of unemployment among young people.

The row comes weeks before the UN Security Council reconsiders its multi-million dollar mission in East Timor.

The draft UNDP report said that East Timor had not done enough to relieve poverty or tackle high rates of youth unemployment.

There is also concern about the government's decision not to pursue those responsible for alleged war crimes committed prior to independence from Indonesia.

The report criticised the release of a militia leader suspected of orchestrating a massacre of 200 unarmed civilians seeking refuge in a church in 1999.

Senior East Timorese officials said that such commentary on sensitive diplomatic issues was "inappropriate".

The state secretary for security, Francisco de Costa Guterres, said the UN had failed to grasp the complexity of the relationship between East Timor and its former colonial master, Indonesia.

Mr Guterres has labelled the UNDP study biased, inaccurate and culturally ignorant.

He said the UN had not seen for itself the work the authorities have done in many impoverished communities.

In response, the UNDP said the authors of its study were reviewing the government's comments.

The final report is expected to be published later this year.

In the coming weeks, the UN Security Council is due to reconsider the future of its current mission in East Timor, which began in 2006 following an outbreak of gang violence.

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