Salesian missionaries in Dili-Comoro shelter 3,000 people impacted by floods and mudslides
Salesian missionaries in Dili-Comoro, East Timor, have sheltered 3,000 people who fled from their homes because of floodwater. A flash flood caused by torrential rains crippled areas around the capital city of Dili as well as nearby islands in eastern Indonesia, including the island of Flores and the western part of Timor Island, in the early morning hours of Easter Sunday.
Salesians say that local news sources are reporting more than 160 deaths as a result of landslides and homes buried under the mud. Roads are destroyed and thousands of people have been displaced. In Dili, river water rose as much as two to four meters above the ordinary level. Rescue workers continue to search for missing people and are working to restore the roads and streets in the affected area.
Those who have been displaced are finding shelter in the Comoro Don Bosco compound where they are being provided blankets, food and basic medicines. The entire Salesian community is working to provide for the flood victims. There are 11 Salesian communities within East Timor including technical and vocational education centers, a large oratory, a post-novitiate community with a philosophy study center, and the Salesian provincial house.
“Salesian missionaries are well-positioned in the community to help provide immediate assistance for those in need,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesians are helping to support people now and will be there long after the floodwaters recede, helping families to rebuilt their homes and their lives.”
East Timor is home to 1.1 million people and according to the Human Development Index, the country ranked 132 out of 189 for life expectancy, access to education and standard of living in 2018. The World Bank estimates that East Timor has close to 49 percent of its population living in poverty with over one-third of the population regularly experiencing food shortages. In addition, close to 50 percent of the population is illiterate.
Salesian missionaries in East Timor have been providing programs to help residents recover and rebuild in the wake of a devastating civil war in the country that claimed countless lives, decimated entire communities and resulted in living conditions that are among the worst in the world. Now that the violence has subsided, efforts are being focused on helping the poor, restoring hope and providing new opportunities for the future.
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Salesian Missions – East Timor
World Bank – East Timor/Timor-Leste