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More Humanitarian Assistance For East Timor

More Humanitarian Assistance For East Timor Approved

MEDIA STATEMENT

For Immediate Release

8 October 1999

MORE HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE FOR EAST TIMOR APPROVED

The New Zealand Government has decided to give an additional $250,000 as a cash grant to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for East Timor (UNHCET). This will be allocated among the most urgent areas of need in East Timor with timber, corrugated iron and other building materials being the priorities before the wet season begins, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said today.

“When I visited Darwin earlier this week, I was briefed by UNHCET head Ross Mountain, and representatives of other agencies involved in the relief effort. They have pooled an enormous amount expertise and experience and are doing a magnificent job,” Mrs Shipley said.

“As a result, the food situation in East Timor is improving. The NGO leaders made it clear the most urgent needs now are for shelter materials, basic agricultural materials and funds. It is only three to four weeks until the rainy season begins and the UN has said that giving cash is the quickest way of getting building materials purchased immediately and shelters built as rapidly as possible. New Zealand has responded to this call.

“There are still enormous challenges that lie ahead. The East Timorese who fled into the hills or into West Timor are keen to return to begin the job of rebuilding their lives. These people need shelter, water, protection from the militias, medical support and ability to plant crops to avoid a food shortage next year," the Prime Minister said.

New Zealand has already contributed $500,000 to the relief effort and has also assisted organisations that are donating materials for Timor. A ship contracted by the NZ Defence Force (NZDF) to carry equipment for NZ soldiers in East Timor, which left Wellington last week, also carried containers of tinned fish donated by Sealords and supplies of emergency boxes donated by Rotary. A further ship chartered by NZDF will depart with military supplies for Darwin next week.

"I know that all New Zealanders will want the Government to do what it can for the people of East Timor. My visit to the refugee camp in Darwin this week brought home to me the desperate need for assistance.

"There are a number of other appeals open for people who want to contribute to the relief effort in East Timor. I commend these to all New Zealanders who want to help restoring dignity and normalcy to the lives of the East Timorese," Mrs Shipley said.

ENDS

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