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Timor Leste: Red Cross aids 16,000 displaced

09-06-2006 News Release 06/41

A team of water and habitat specialists from the ICRC and staff from the Timor Leste Red Cross today visited the town of Baucau, 160 km east of Dili, to assess the needs of some 16,000 people who have fled there from the violence in the capital.

People have found shelter in a bus depot, a local school, abandoned buildings and the homes of relatives living in the area. They have few possessions – many because their homes have been burnt down and everything they owned destroyed, others because they had to flee in such haste.

Access to water, sanitation and cooking facilities is limited in the temporary camps and conditions are difficult in the severely overcrowded households that have taken in relatives. " One house we visited has gone from six occupants to several dozen, " said Alain Oppliger, an ICRC delegate. He added that there was an acute need for greater access to water, with many people having to walk more than three kilometres to wash their clothes or bathe.

With displaced families continuing to arrive in Baucau, the need for water and other basic necessities looks set to grow. To help alleviate immediate shortages, the ICRC handed over two 10,000-litre bladder tanks, pipes and other equipment to the local branch of the Red Cross. Having surveyed the situation in Baucau, the ICRC plans further aid in the near future.

In Dili, meanwhile, the ICRC is continuing to work closely with the Timor Leste Red Cross to distribute water to displaced families living in camps. It is also endeavouring to restore contact between people and loved ones from whom they have become separated.

 For further information, please contact:  

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

 Pauline Wall, ICRC Dili, + 670 732 1847  

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