ATLANTA (December 30, 1999) -- As flooding wrought by heavy rains threatens the lives of displaced Timorese, CARE is working to alleviate their suffering by providing weather-resistant shelter, food and other necessities to the most vulnerable families returning home or living in low-lying camps.
"A large portion of displaced people are living under crude shelters, using vegetation for cover," says Bob Laprade, who oversees CARE's programs in Asia and Europe. "These people are in desperate need of our help."
More than 102,000 people have returned home to East Timor since the beginning of October 1999 after international peacekeepers restored order in the wake of conflict. The conflict arose following the August 30 referendum, in which nearly 80 percent of voters rejected special autonomy within Indonesia, thus supporting East Timor's independence. It is estimated that another 130,000 displaced East Timorese will want to return in the upcoming months.
In Dili, people are waiting in line to receive relief packs from CARE workers.
"The heavy rain will spur severe flooding," adds Laprade. "To help some 15,000 East Timorese refugees in West Timor, for example, CARE is providing durable weather-resistant shelters, raised flooring and flood drainage systems."
In the nearby East Timorese enclave of Ambeno, CARE is helping 35,000 people meet their food and nutritional needs by providing initial stock to replenish small livestock; seeds and tools for agriculture production; nets, hooks and other equipment to rehabilitate fishing activities; and structural and transportation assistance to rehabilitate local markets.
On the main island of East Timor, CARE's primary objective is to increase the food security for more than 62,000 people through emergency distributions of food staples (rice, beans and oil) and supplementary foods (corn and soy blend), seeds (maize, bean and other vegetables) and tools. CARE also is distributing thousands of relief packs at refugee transit centers and to internally displaced families resettling in Suai. The relief packs include cooking sets, eating utensils, soap and blankets. At the same time, CARE also is undertaking shelter and water and sanitation rehabilitation in the Districts of Covalima, Manatuto, Dili and Lautem.
CARE in East Timor
CARE has a long-term commitment to work with the people and communities of East Timor. It first started work there in 1994, then expanded its operations in 1997 to help reduce the suffering caused by the drought and the economic crisis. Before the most recent violence broke out, CARE was working in all 13 districts, supplying food to people displaced by the conflict.
Go to the East Timor special report