Australian naval units have from Sydney and other ports to rendezvous off the north-Australian port of Darwin where they have been ordered to stand-by for a possible evacuation of refugees from Portuguese Timor.
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Background: Australian naval units have from Sydney and other ports to rendezvous off the north-Australian port of Darwin where they have been ordered to stand-by for a possible evacuation of refugees from Portuguese Timor.
They were given emergency sailing orders after Australia received an urgent request from the Portuguese Government for help in taking off about 1,000 refugees from the colony where savage fighting is reported to have left hundreds killed.
According to Reuters, refugees who have already arrived in Darwin, say that hundreds of women and children have been slaughtered in the fighting.
Australian frigates based on Sydney were joining the destroyers "Vendetta" and "Vampire" which sailed earlier from Fremantle.
The Australian Government has also ordered an unspecified number of merchant ships to Darwin where they will join the warships.
Meanwhile the Australian Government has dismiss reports that it has moved military aircraft into the Darwin area because of the situation in Portuguese Timor.
An Australian Government spokesman added that the warship had been ordered to wait off Darwin, pending a final decision by Australian Prime Minister, Gaugh Whitlam on evacuation. The Foreign Affairs Department said the Portuguese appeal was being dealt with urgently and with sympathy.
The conflict on Portuguese Timor erupted earlier this month (August) when the U.D.T. (Timorese Democratic union) which wants independence but also to maintain links with Portugal, demanded the jailing of the rival Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (FRETILIN).
Indonesia occupies the western half of the island and a third group wants merger with Indonesia. The Indonesian Government has warned that if threatened it will act to protect what it calls its "territorial integrity."