The UN Security Council has voted to form a new 10,000-man peacekeeping force for East Timor to replace the current ad-hoc 16-nation INTERFET force. (Much of INTERFET will in fact just roll over into the new UN force.) The new force will include 8,950 troops, 200 military observers, and 1,640 civilian police. It will be responsible to keep things calm and secure on East Timor during the UN-imposed transition to some kind of independent or autonomous status. The force will have unusually robust rules of engagement, and will be able to respond quickly and with massive force to any kind of organized armed threat to security or to UN personnel. The UN had 14,000 troops deployed earlier this year, something of a low point given that it had 70,000 deployed a decade ago. Adding 10,000 for East Timor and 6,000 for Sierra Leone will more than double the deployed UN troops.--Stephen V Cole
November 16; Indonesia will allow a referendum in Aceh, to be held in seven months. The most likely result will be a vote for independence. Many Indonesians are violently opposed to such a populous (five million people) and rich (oil and other raw materials) part of the country become independent.
November 15; East Timorese refugees in West Timor have begun returning home in large numbers.
November 14; Although the pro-independence violence has abated in Aceh, another dead body was found, apparently the result of separatist violence. The situation on the East Timorese border with West Timor remains tense, but the peacekeeping troops have apparently sufficiently intimidated the anti-independence militias to allow East Timorese refugees to return home.
November 12; Indonesia withdrew 600 troops from Aceh province, as a good will gesture to calm things down. Indonesian troops in West Timor have entered refugee camps full of East Timorese to provide security so the refugees can return home.
November 11; More pro-independence violence in Aceh has left at least one dead and several more wounded or missing.