Employment: Under IOM's Return of Qualified Nationals Programme (RQN), a total of 8 candidates, 7 from Australia, and one from China (Macau) applied to be considered under the programme during March. Candidates' professions include civil engineers, translators and construction specialists. Two of the candidates are interested in the programme's self-employment component. IOM has also received 14 job offers to date from the Civil Service and Public Employment Office (CISPE). The first candidate placed under the programme in early March is employed by the NGO Timor Aid as a project coordinator. Employers are encouraged to seek assistance from IOM if in need of skilled professionals if they are not able to hire staff locally.
Tracing: Since the end of September, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has collected approximately 60,000 Red Cross Messages from East Timorese in Indonesia, East Timor, Australia, Portugal and elsewhere. Through its tracing efforts, the ICRC has facilitated family reunification for almost 300 children.
Shelter: Distribution of shelter kits under the UNHCR shelter programme continues in 10 of the 13 Districts of East Timor. Distributions in Covalima District and in Bobonaro District are due to begin in April. Initial imposition of an Indonesian export tax on UNHCR shelter cargo brought distributions of materials from Dili in the last week of March to a virtual halt. Following negotiations with Indonesian authorities, and on the basis that the goods being delivered represented humanitarian assistance to East Timorese, UNHCR was granted an exemption from the tax. Consequently, one ship with 1,000 shelter kits arrived from Surabaya on 30 March and is being unloaded at Dili harbour. A second ship with an additional 1,000 shelter kits is due to arrive on the weekend. Over the past week, 950 MTs of cement were distributed.
To date, 1,490 shelter kits have been distributed in Lautem District, 82 in Baucau, 440 in Aileu, 465 in Oecussi, 994 in Liquica, 483 in Manatuto, 65 in Ermera, 133 in Dili, 54 in Manufahi and 116 in Ainaro District. Of the total of 4,322 shelter kits distributed, 1,487 beneficiary families have completed construction of their shelters.
Health: WHO reports that the virus isolated from two children with acute flaccid paralysis in January has been identified as the Coxsackie A24 virus. The Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Melbourne/Australia did the virus isolation and identification. The virus is usually associated with haemorrhagic conjunctivitis, absent in the these two cases. No cases of dengue haemorrhagic fever have been reported to WHO since the middle of March. District representation for weekly epidemiological bulletin was for the past week recorded at ten out of the 13 East Timor Districts (up from seven districts reporting the previous week). Nonetheless, the total number of consultations showed a decline.
Education: Teachers in 11 Districts have been interviewed as potential participants in a National Teacher training programme supported by UNICEF. The training of 31 teacher trainers will begin in early May at the Escola Technica, located near the Governor's Office, once refurbishment of the wing set aside as the teacher training institute has been completed. UNICEF, OXFAM, CNRT, the District Education Committee and UNTAET staff conducted the interviews. The education committees selected interviewees at the district level. The training will focus on primary school education and the 31 teachers will receive training in training skills and in child- centred teaching methods.
Cash incentives to primary school teachers for March have been completed in Ainaro, Bobonaro, Ermera and Manufahi Districts. So far, 1802 teachers have received their cash incentive from UNICEF.