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Timor Leste: Red Cross teams focus on providing clean water and reuniting families

30-05-2006 News Release 06/50

In spite of continued violence, providing drinking water and performing other humanitarian services for the displaced population in Dili is proceeding. “Stones, felled trees and burnt tyres are still barring the streets,” said Ida Bucher, head of the ICRC delegation in Timor Leste, “but these improvised checkpoints are now mostly abandoned and security is improving.”

Joint ICRC and local Red Cross teams have delivered six truckloads of clean water to around 5,000 people who took refuge in the seminary of St Peter and St John, in an area that has experienced some of the worst violence. Water trucks have also reached several other neighbourhoods and Red Cross teams have set up a water bladder at Dili airport, located in an isolated area where no clean water or other supplies had been available.

Another priority for the ICRC is to help displaced people get back in touch with family members from whom they were separated during the recent violent events. This can be more complicated than one might expect. “When we approached an isolated house we were confronted by two nervous men armed with guns,” said Bucher, “but once we explained how we are helping people get back in touch, they apologised and one of them even asked if we could help him trace his own wife.”

An economic security specialist and a water and sanitation specialist arrived in Dili today to prepare the next phase of the ICRC’s aid operation. The ICRC is coordinating the action of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in Timor Leste.

 For more information, please contact:  

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

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