East Timor to be given special priority in Irish Aid Programme
Minister O'Donnell meets Horta to discuss future assistance plans
Mr. Jose Ramos Horta, the East Timorese Nobel Peace Prize winner, has been discussing the future needs of East Timor with EU Development Ministers in Brussels and has urged them to respond generously to East Timor's request for assistance.
The Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Liz O'Donnell T.D,. told Mr. Horta at the meeting that East Timor should be designated as a top priority in the Irish aid programme for assistance in rehabilitation, reconstruction and transition to independence.
"The Irish people will maintain solidarity with East Timor as they rebuild their country", she said. "I told Mr. Horta that I sent a team today from my Department and APSO to East Timor to assess its immediate needs. Once the team has reported, further substantial additional funds, beyond the £1 million already committed by Ireland Aid, will be made available. The Irish aid programme should designate East Timor as a priority recipient for the assistance it will require in its transition to independence. A generous and planned response on our part is needed to help alleviate the suffering of the East Timorese people and build capacity and confidence in a new independent East Timor."
The Minister also said that when she had examined the report of the assessment visit, she would visit East Timor for discussions on the urgent implementation of Ireland's aid programme. "I am determined to ensure that in 2000 we will be implementing a substantial Irish aid programme in East Timor on a priority basis which will contribute to East Timor's rehabilitation and reconstruction. Our aid programme will be drawn up in consultation with the representatives of the East Timorese people, the UN and Irish NGOs including the East Timor Ireland Solidarity Campaign".
NOTE FOR EDITORS
The UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), established by Security Council Resolution 1272 of 25 October 1999, will administer the territory for an indefinite period, between two and three years. Xanana Gusmao returned to Dili on 22 October. Withdrawal of the Indonesian army is now complete. Dili shows signs of normalisation. 70,000 residents have returned from West Timor, Jakarta, Surabaya and other islands. The Irish Army Rangers are stationed in Sui.