18 July 2006 The top United Nations aid official in Timor-Leste said today that the $19.6 million flash appeal for the 155,000 people forced to flee their homes after recent violence is almost fully funded but he warned that provision should be made for the difficult period between harvests and the dry season.
The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Timor-Leste, Finn Reske-Nielsen, said the support for the displaced persons, who represent 15 per cent of the population of the tiny nation, was “satisfactory for the moment,” but he added that the “lean” season would arrive earlier than usual in September.
In a related development, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Timor-Leste, Anis Bajwa, today briefed visiting Australian Prime Minister John Howard on the humanitarian, security and political situation.
The UN spokesman said that Mr. Bajwa had thanked the Prime Minister for the security provided by Australian soldiers, who are part of a task force restoring calm in Timor-Leste following the violence that erupted in late April with the firing of 600 striking soldiers, a third of the armed forces.
The two men also discussed the role of a new UN mission currently being planned for the tiny country, which the world body shepherded to independence from Indonesia four years ago. The mandate of the small UN Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL) runs until 20 August.
Further on the humanitarian front, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says that its joint campaign with the Ministry of Health to vaccinate children against measles will this week visit schools in the capital Dili. The campaign has so far vaccinated more than 12,000 children in several camps set up for the internally displaced.
UNICEF also reports that it has supplied six campsites with exercise books, pencils, pens and other stationery so that children can resume their school work.