UK pledges long-term support for people of East Timor

From the Department for International Development 82/99

17 DECEMBER 1999. The UK today signalled its commitment to the future of East Timor, pledging £13 million to support reconstruction and development.

The pledge which was announced by the Department for International Development (DFID) at a meeting of international donors in Tokyo, will be channelled through Trust Funds which have been set up by the World Bank and the United Nations to coordinate the international aid effort.

International Development Secretary Clare Short said that the UK was committed to helping East Timor cope with the challenges of independence, and called on other donors to contribute.

"East Timor faces difficult challenges as it moves towards independence - after all the suffering inflicted on its people over the last 20 years, they deserve our support to rebuild," said Ms Short.

"The international community acted quickly in restoring peace to East Timor after the people declared their support for independence. Now we must work to ensure that they are able to take control of the development of their country as quickly as possible."

"By its decision to pursue reconciliation rather than revenge for the crimes committed against them, the East Timorese have shown that they are looking forward. We applaud their far-sightedness and hope it will set the mood for the new nation in the coming years.

A recent World Bank led mission has outlined the main challenges facing East Timor in the immediate future:

  • restarting the economy
  • resuming agricultural production
  • establishing an effective civil service
  • developing a fair and accessible legal and judicial system
  • rebuilding essential infrastructure
  • building civil society
  • developing health and education systems

The Secretary of State added that the international community must also focus on helping those who were forced to move to West Timor to be allowed to return home.

Notes to Editors

1. The UK's pledge to East Timor was outlined in a statement to the donors' meeting in Tokyo, Japan. Full text of this statement is available on the DFID website, at http://www.dfid.gov.uk

UK assistance to East Timor

1. In total DFID has committed £18.5 million in assistance to East Timor since the crisis began. Of this, £5.5 million was in the form of humanitarian assistance to deal with the immediate aftermath of the violence which followed the August referendum.

2. Funds were also used to help re-establish the UN and expand its presence across East Timor and to encourage the return of all displaced people, particularly those in West Timor and other parts of Indonesia.

3. DFID funds have directly supported the International Organisation for Migration, the World Food Programme, the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor, UNICEF, UNHCR, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Red Cross, the World Health Organisation and CARE.

4. DFID has helped restore basic power supplies and assisted in the distribution of aid supplies. Grants to NGOs and other international organisation have provided seeds and tools to enable people to grow crops again; funded food deliveries and provided protection for refugees.

5. In September a DFID health expert was part of the World Bank led joint assessment mission which visited West and East Timor. It was this mission that discovered the widespread physical destruction of homes. The report from this has formed the basis of this week's discussions in Tokyo.

6. For more information contact DFID Press Office, Tel; 0171 917 0600 or visit our website: www.dfid.gov.uk

Press Enquiries: 0171 917 0600 Overseas (+44 171 917 0600)
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