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Timor-Leste: ICRC to assist over 60,000 internally displaced

07-06-2006 News Release

Geneva (ICRC) – Following initial assessments of the humanitarian needs created by the ongoing violence in Timor-Leste, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), together with the Timor-Leste Red Cross, plans to distribute relief supplies to over 60,000 internally displaced people in the country, including some 40,000 people in the capital Dili. The ICRC – which has increased its presence in Timor-Leste to nine expatriate staff over the last 10 days – will also continue providing clean water, helping to restore family links and visiting people detained in connection with the violence.

The displaced are living in over 50 improvised camps in and around Dili, each housing from 30 to 5,000 people. Many have gathered around places of worship or near the airport. Others have left for their villages of origin. Apart from clean water, they need basic hygiene items, shelter materials and food. In addition, the camps will require maintenance and sanitation work.

The ICRC and the Timor-Leste Red Cross have taken charge of the Comoro pumping station, the only facility that delivers clean water for trucking. Over 200,000 litres of water are being supplied daily to various humanitarian organizations; half of this is being delivered by Red Cross trucks to 10 camps. The ICRC is also distributing food and items such as mosquito nets and tarpaulins to displaced families. Following a survey of camps in the Aileu and Ermera districts, Red Cross teams are about to distribute relief in those areas as well.

Under an existing agreement with the Timor-Leste authorities, ICRC delegates have begun visiting detainees at Becora prison in Dili. International forces have also agreed to give the ICRC prompt access to anyone they detain in connection with the current violence.

The ICRC and the Timor-Leste Red Cross have so far responded to 40 requests concerning missing relatives. " Having to cope with the violence and the loss of one's home is hard enough, " said Ida Bucher, head of the ICRC mission in Dili. " But not knowing what has become of a loved one is even worse.” In order to ensure that people are aware of Red Cross tracing services, notices have been posted in the camps in Dili. The ICRC is also registering children in the camps who have been separated from their parents or are unaccompanied with a view to tracing their relatives and, if possible, reuniting them with their families.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Ida Bucher, ICRC Dili, tel ++ 670 723 0994  

 Vincent Lusser, ICRC Geneva, +41 79 217 32 64