At a ceremony in Dili, UN Transitional Administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello signed his approval, noting that the event marked the first time the UN had approved projects in East Timor that were "directly related to reconstruction and rehabilitation."
The road repairs are expected to generate about 100 jobs for East Timorese workers in their first phase, while the agricultural project will train farmers in long-term rice production. Both projects will be executed by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and funded by the Government of Norway.
Meanwhile, UNICEF reports that malnutrition is affecting 25 per cent of refugee children under the age of five in Belu, West Timor, home to an estimated 100,000 East Timorese refugees, of whom approximately 15 per cent are children under five.
Since malnutrition rates at or above 15 per cent are considered by the UN to be a serious nutritional emergency, UNICEF plans to expand its distribution of Vitadele, a micronutrient-fortified food, and work closely with the Indonesian government to improve rice distribution and increase general food rations.