Minister Lenihan announces emergency funding of €500,000 for humanitarian relief in Timor-Leste
Conor Lenihan T.D., Minister of State for Development Cooperation and Human Rights, today announced that the Government is to provide an immediate sum of €500,000 in humanitarian relief for Timor-Leste. He reiterated Ireland's commitment to help Timor-Leste over the longer term.
The Government of Timor-Leste and the United Nations have appealed for funds on behalf of those who have been caught up in the recent and ongoing unrest. The current estimate is that over 100,000 people have been displaced from their homes by the recent violence.
The Minister said “Ireland shares a strong sense of solidarity with Timor-Leste. Ireland has been to the forefront in providing humanitarian and development assistance to the people of Timor-Leste for some time now. Following its independence in 2002, Ireland established a development programme to assist the country in meeting challenges of nation-building and poverty reduction. In 2003, Timor-Leste was designated a bilateral development partner country with Irish Aid.
The impact of the recent disturbances on the people of Timor-Leste is a matter of deep concern to me. I want to respond immediately to enable our partner organisations to implement their emergency response on the ground. We have been staying in close contact with our key partners – the Government, UN Agencies, the Red Cross and NGOs - to identify their priority needs.
As always, the humanitarian response can be best assisted by speedy and well focused assistance from the international community. However, building peace and stability takes time and long-term commitment on the part of the international community. I look forward to the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's report in August on options for a future UN role.”
Note for editors: Timor-Leste
Timor-Leste is still among the world's poorest countries. The economy remains fragile and physical infrastructure is weak. Skills and education levels are low and unemployment is high. Institutional capacity remains weak and budget planning and roll out is poor, resulting in low levels of service delivery in important sectors.
Unrest was sparked earlier this year following a dispute in which 600 soldiers protested over their sacking from the army. The unrest spread to other elements of the security forces and more widely in the population leading to gang violence, looting and arson in the Capital, Dili. On the humanitarian front, assistance is being provided to more than 100,000 people, about 15% of the total population, who have been displaced by the violence and are now sheltering in camps scattered throughout the capital, Dili, and other districts.
Ireland provided substantial humanitarian assistance to Timor-Leste from the outbreak of high-levels of violence that followed the September 1999 UN independence referendum. In 2003, the country was designated as Ireland's first bilateral programme country in Asia and a long-term development assistance programme was put in place. The focus of Ireland's assistance has been on state-building. The overall objective has been to support the government of Timor-Leste and civil society in reducing poverty by delivering essential social services and by strengthening governance and human rights. Development assistance funding of approximately €12 million has been provided since 2003. The funding announced today will be provided to UN Agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the Irish Non-Governmental Organisations, Trócaire and Concern, which are assisting the displaced populations with emergency shelter and basic needs.
23 June 2006