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UN exit likely to hit East Timor jobs

ABC News - November 15, 2012

Stephanie March, Canberra – Hundreds of East Timorese will be forced to find new jobs when the United Nations withdraws from the country at the end of this year.

900 East Timorese directly employed by the UN peacekeeping mission will be out of work, as will a further 1300 security guards employed by a private firm contracted by the UN.

Acting Chief of Staff for the UN mission, Gary Grey, says while the impact will be noticeable, the UN has been preparing staff for the transition.

"More than 90 per cent of our staff have taken part of this program we have called National Staff Certification where we have offered a number of training courses in all kinds of areas, like information and technology, translation and interpretation, administration, even creating small businesses," he told Radio Australia.

Mr Grey says professional staff will have "very little problem" gaining employment with NGO's or embassies, but lesser-skilled staff may face a more difficult time.

Small businesses are also likely to be affected. Dili Beach Hotel owner, Michael McGovern, says 50 percent of his business comes from the United Nations. "I expect 2013 to be extremely hard, very very hard," he said.

The United Nations peacekeepers first withdrew from East Timor in 2005, but in 2006 the country descended into violence, and the Australian military and UN returned.