Kiwi troops withdrawing from Timor Leste

New Zealand troops are withdrawing from Timor Leste this week. Photo / File
New Zealand troops are withdrawing from Timor Leste this week. Photo / File

New Zealand troops are withdrawing from Timor Leste this week.

It comes 12 years after Defence Force personnel first arrived in the half-island nation to suppress violent upheaval and restore security.

The troops coming home this week are part of the Australian-led International Stabilisation Force, which was set up in 2006.

Around 1,300 of our personnel have served with it since then. It is estimated it has cost more than $100 million sustaining our military commitment for the past six years.

The 79 personnel who make up the current ISF contingent, will return home on Friday.

New Zealand Commander Lieutenant Colonel Steve Watts says the joint Australia and New Zealand mission, along with the UN operation, indirectly employs up to 1,500 local people.

He says their salaries compared to those of other locals are very good, so many will be hurting after the withdrawal.

Steve Watts says the Government is aware of the problem, and plans to do what it can to support them.

He says Timor Leste has remained stable and calm, with elections earlier this year running smoothly, and power now being handed back to local police.

He says it is time to return home, because the police and military have shown they are doing their job.

Steve Watts says the level of violence in the country nowadays is quite minimal.

However, a US doctor operating a clinic in Timor Leste isn't so sure the nation will be able to remain stable as international troops head home.

Our Defence Force personnel are withdrawing from the country on Friday after having a presence since 1999.

The United Nations mission is also coming to an end, with power recently being handed back to local police.

Meanwhile, a team of around 20 personnel arrived in the country at the weekend and will spend the next few months extracting Defence Force equipment.

- Newstalk ZB

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