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RAAF aircraft operating for international red cross forced to carry 50 Timorese



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FRIDAY 5 SEPTEMBER, 1975 NO. 76/75

An RAAF aircraft operating at the request of the Interna.tional Red Cross was forced to carry about 50 Timorese

to Darwin last night.

The aircraft, a Caribou specially repainted with Red Cross insignia, was on a flight to Dili and Baucau.

It was the first Red Cross flight to Timor since the Government agreed to make an RAA.F aircraft available for

emergency relief.

Its task was to deliver medical and relief supplies.

According to radio messages received in Darwin from

the RAAF crew, a group of armed' men boarded the aircraft in

Baucau. '

The crew later took off with the Timorese on board to

fly to Darwin. .

As soon as the messages were received from Baucau,

the Minister for Defence, Mr Morrison, conferred with the Prime

Minister, the Minister for Police and Customs, the Minister for Northern Australia, and the Secretary of the Attorney-General's Department. When the aircraft landed, it taxied a mile and a half away from the civil airport, where police and other officia

• ' · . · · ·

were waiting. ’ -

Buses took the passengers on the aircraft to the Darwi

police station where further inquiries are being undertaken.

In Canberra last night, the Minister for Defence said that further plans for relief flights to Timor had been suspended

until such time as the situation had been clarified.

He said that aircraft had been made available to the

Red Cross in response to requests from the Portuguese authorities for help with humanitarian relief in Portuguese Timor and in the

belief that the contending parties in Portuguese Timor would respect the traditional status and role of the Red Cross.

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enquiries: Bill Pinwill 72 6328 and

47 4086

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