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Timor Leste: ICRC ready to step up action

26-05-2006 News Release

Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Timor-Leste Red Cross are deeply concerned about the effects on people of the recent upsurge of violence in Timor Leste's capital Dili. The clashes between various entities, including police forces, the army and former members of the security forces, have led to loss of life, injuries, destruction of property and the displacement of thousands of people from their homes.

The ICRC calls on all those involved in the violence to exercise restraint, to respect and protect the population, and to facilitate medical evacuations.

Both the ICRC and the Timor-Leste Red Cross are monitoring the situation and stand ready to increase their humanitarian response in order to come quickly to the aid of the population should the current situation persist.'' We're particularly alarmed by the fact that this violence is taking place in heavily populated areas " , said Edith Baeriswyl, head of ICRC operations for Southeast Asia and the Pacific. " It has already caused thousands of people to flee their homes. "

Local Red Cross volunteers are busy removing the dead and taking the injured to hospital. In recent weeks, the Timor-Leste Red Cross and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have distributed food and non-food aid to several thousand people forced to flee their homes. Ms Baeriswyl said that the ICRC would soon reinforce its staff in Timor Leste. " Our priority at this stage is to meet people's basic needs and visit all those who could be detained in connection with the current violence'' .

The ICRC has been present in Timor Leste since 1975.

 For further information, please contact:  

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

 Marco Jiménez, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 79 217 32 17