For the last couple of weeks, there has definitely been an increase in Blackhawk activity (ie helicopters), particularly at night. Apparently, there has been an increase in gang activity and the lads have been getting a bit more belligerent and have been testing the foreign troops and police.
The Comorro/FatuHada area (on the west of town towards the airport) seems to be the main problem spot. But I don’t know much more than that, and little is reported about it in the foreign press. There is a rumour that someone is slipping the lads a few bucks to stir up trouble. If this is true, no-one seems to have any idea what the purpose is but to constantly create an insecure environment and ensure that “refugees” (IDPs) stay in the camps, which is exactly what they are doing.
As far as I can tell, there has been no general movement away from the camps. It is almost the new normality. There are concerns that the secure camps which provide free water, (certainly not the greatest) sanitation, some degree of medical service and free food are far too attractive for a number of people.
There has been talk of stopping the free food in the camps and moving food distribution points to the suburbs but I have seen no evidence of this myself (not that I would even recognise it occuring anyway).
But a couple of nights ago, 10 houses were burnt in the FatuHada area. I think there were a couple of arrests but who knows if that will put anyone off. But yes, the security situation at night-time has definitely deteriorated in certain parts of town, even right next to the OZ defence HQ at the Dili port.
Many think things will bumble along like this until the general election scheduled for May 2007 – that’s 8 more months of bumbling. That is unless some political revelation occurs first.
Besides the complement of OZ and NZ police at the Timor Lodge Hotel, there are still some longer term residents. They have lost their regular bar as the blue shirts have commandeered that. But they have also lost a bit of relaxed lifestyle. Security experts have deemed that the establishment required twin 5m high wire fences topped with razor wire and sun-like security lighting. It looks awful. The banana trees were chopped down too. I do know the blue shirts are not allowed out so is this really what is required to keep the boys inside ? Or have I got this wrong ?