The temporary nature of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) is most evident in its accommodation. Moored a few hundred metres from the old Portuguese Governor’s House is the Veksa, a ﬂoating four-star hotel connected to the island by an umbilical cord of pipes and wires, home to many senior staff. The Governor’s House itself, inadequate to the size of the UN presence, is supplemented by prefabricated ofﬁces deposited by ship and crane to be carted away at the end of the mission.
When most UN staff had no shelter beyond their own tent city, such measures were a pragmatic response to the destruction wrought by Indonesian-supported militias after the independence referendum of August 1999. Now some Timorese see the ﬂoating hotel and the container-ofﬁces as indicative of the world’s temporary interest in this land that had almost become accustomed to being forgotten.