Reacting quickly to the humanitarian catastrophe which resulted from the violence after the country's vote for independence on 4th September, GOAL committed £50,000 to initiate a relief programme for the East Timorese people.
GOAL has linked with Timor Aid, a Timorese NGO based in Australia, and three other NGOs to bring large quantities of supplies by ship in what has become known as the "East Timor Mercy Ship" project. The project is a collaborative effort of 5 NGOs all striving to provide essential goods. The ship, brought 300 metric tonnes of relief supplies. As well as the cost of renting the ship, GOAL has provided medical supplies, food, shelter items and buckets for the project.
The population have been displaced throughout East and West Timor but the actions of the Indonesian militia on the ground have isolated most. It is estimated that 200,000 are displaced in East Timor with a further 180,000 displaced in West Timor. GOAL is prepared to go wherever access is possible.
GOAL Director John O'Shea has appealed to the Irish government to use its influence at the UN to ensure that the peacekeepers are given access to West Timor also. Genocide is taking place in West Timor - and it is imperative that the United Nations force is sent there to stop it. The East Timorese have been betrayed by the international community and in a sense, whatever we do for them now is "too little too late" but that does not mean we should do nothing at all.
GOAL has been campaigning for years for the establishment of an international standing army or rapid reaction force to be kept in readiness to intervene in situations such as this to protect civilian lives.