MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
I am pleased to announce that Australia will contribute $25 million this financial year through international trust funds to help East Timor prepare for independence and future development. Australia will provide funds to an international Reconstruction and Development Trust Fund, and the United Nations Trust Fund. These were discussed at a major donor meeting in Tokyo this week.
The Reconstruction and Development Trust Fund will support a three-year program aimed at rebuilding East Timor's economy and essential infrastructure and services. The UN trust fund will support governance and administration, with a strong focus on developing the capacity of East Timorese to run an independent East Timor.
The Tokyo meeting held on 17 December was hosted by the Japanese Government and chaired by the head of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), Sergio Vieira de Mello, and World Bank Vice President, Jean-Michel Severino. Representatives from a range of East Timorese groups participated, including the CNRT led by Xanana Gusmao.
The meeting discussed the report of the Joint Assessment Mission (JAM) to East Timor. JAM members included representatives from the international community and East Timor. Priorities identified in the report include rebuilding the civil service, particularly the health and education systems; the rebuilding of essential services and infrastructure; and support for agriculture which provides a livelihood for four out of five East Timorese. The East Timorese people have also identified reconciliation within their communities and the establishment of the rule of law as urgent priorities.
The Australian Government has strongly supported East Timor through the largest emergency humanitarian program ever undertaken by Australia. The contribution I am announcing today will help build the foundations of a democratic and independent East Timor. Australia's total program of assistance to the East Timorese this financial year will be at least $75 million.
NOUMEA, NEW CALEDONIA
Media contacts: Innes Willox (Ministerial)
02 6277 7500 / 0419 206 890
Jacinta Cubis (AusAID) 02 6206 4967 / 0412 680 590