An estimated 370,000 people in East Timor
were burnt out of their houses in the violence following the vote on autonomy
on August 30th, 1999. It was clear that the international community would
have to pull out every stop if these people were to be spared the ravages
of pneumonia and malaria during the rainy season.
Concern took the role of lead agency for shelter and non-food programs in Lautem district where people were coming down from the hills to restart their lives. Estimated damage to buildings was 85%. An estimated 65,000 people in the area lost everything.
In the first few weeks of the emergency, Concern spearheaded co-ordination of the Shelter Group for East Timor, working with UNHCR. We took the lead in developing principles for both phases of this emergency intervention, and in directing the planning for the distribution of emergency shelter kits (Phase I) and shelter kits (Phase II) which provide materials and engineering support for the reconstruction of permanent housing.
Concern has agreed to support the repair or rehabilitation of 2,500 houses as part of the reconstruction effort. This consolidated effort will be funded by UNHCR.
Our distribution and support efforts have initially been focused on Lautem district, which suffered heavy damage and a large internal displacement of its population. As part of this major initiative, USAID/OFDA has awarded Concern a grant to supply 5,000 tool kits (saws and hammers) and 250 tons of nails countrywide to aid villagers in the reconstruction of their homes, schools and communal buildings, and in developing their own income generation potential.
Concern has started an emergency program to facilitate the restoration of education for 50,000 school-age children in four districts in the Central Highlands. As a first step, schools require materials such as furniture, equipment and stationary. In addition, other teaching aids such as sports equipment, musical instruments and maps, are being provided. It is planned to help in the restoration of school buildings in some instances where buildings have been badly damaged.
CONCERN is also investigating how to provide impetus for economic recovery at the micro-level through enabling small business and community development initiatives in collaboration with local communities and local NGOs. At village level, Concern Worldwide hope to look at skill building and income generation for vulnerable groups.