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ChildFund evacuate staff over the weekend

MEDIA RELEASE
29 May 2006

East Timor/Timor Leste
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ChildFund evacuate staff over the weekend


ChildFund has temporarily closed its National Office in Timor Leste after weeks of simmering tensions reached a new high. With ChildFund’s office located 100 metres from police headquarters in Dili, staff were seen to be in immediate danger as the violence escalated.

Only a core of critical staff remains in Timor Leste, with others evacuated to Australia or sent home until it is safe to return. New Zealand staff due to travel there last week have also postponed trips.

“ChildFund has been actively working in Timor Leste since 1990, and was sad to have to evacuate staff, but they were in immediate danger. Only a core of critical staff remains. We are now operating the Timor Leste National Office out of our Regional Office for Asia, based in Bangkok. As soon as peace returns to Dili and the outlying areas we will continue to deliver our critical services including food, clean water, medical care, education, and more,” said Paul Brown, National Director of ChildFund New Zealand.

“The people, particularly the children of Timor Leste, are our major concern. They have been through so much – the last thing they need now is to be displaced and traumatised once again.”

ChildFund New Zealand is committed to helping the children and families of Timor Leste. This nation is the poorest in the Asian region, and one of the poorest in the world. Even before the violence began the poverty situation was critical. One in seven children die before they reach the age of five from easily preventable diseases borne out of poverty and lack of infrastructure.

New Zealanders sponsor more than 1000 children in Timor Leste through ChildFund, the majority from the Maliana and Suai regions, four to seven hours drive from Dili. At this stage it is believed that these projects remain relatively unaffected by the violence.

ChildFund is collecting donations for Timor Leste to help provide shelter, food and blankets to those displaced by the violence.


Donations can be made by calling 0800 223 111 or by visiting www.childfund.org.nz


ENDS

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