February could turn out to be the most interesting month for a while. The general security situation has been stable for months and your typical expat has been able to go about their normal business and security chatter has been minimal.
As it stands right now, the UN is technically finishing up on 28 February although everyone expects their mission to be extended another 12 months.
The Timorese police (PNTL) are starting to take up key policing duties again on Monday 4 February even though I have already seen them doing traffic duty during the week. It will take a bit of getting used to again as they have been out of the action since May 2006. I admit I do struggle a bit with the boys wearing dark sunglasses and being very active (and noisy) in their policing role. None of the smiling community copper stuff from these lads but we’ll see if that persona alters slightly after their quality mentoring from the UN Police.
The IDP camps remain a problem and are making a bit of a political statement by flying Fretilin flags and of late, it seems like they are getting bigger. The government has decided to reduce food hand-outs to the camps to encourage people to leave and go back home and get on with things. The government found that one of the problems was that free food tended to attract people to the camps and that 50% of food went to people who did not need it.
A Timorese I know who had her house burnt down has been renting a small room out in the community and made the comment that “here I am trying to get on with things, doing it hard and all I have to do is go and live in a camp and I will get free food – why wouldn’t I?”. Well, I wouldn’t as the camps look particularly unattractive and it has rained most days over the last week or so. But if my alternative was a leaky grass hut that floods anyway, maybe I would.
It is a difficult one. I think the reality will turn out like this : some people will suffer with the food reduction; some will elect to move on; others will take advantage of the situation to cause trouble; politicians may well be hurling excrement at each other over it; and the NGOs running the camps could be stuck in the middle again.
Meanwhile, the F-FDTL are having some sort of anniversary ceremony today and the OZ Army Band are doing a youth concert tomorrow at 5pm at the Stadium (or maybe it is in front of the Palacio). Monty Python here we come.
Addendum : Yep, I got an SMS which confirmed that the boys did the Monty Python theme. And perhaps the OZ Army Band will be at the university gymnasium. I once tried to play a trombone and doing it in the rain does’nt seem too flash so the gym seems a safe bet.