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East Timor: Children traumatised and in shock

1 June 2006

East Timor/Timor Leste:
Children traumatised and in shock

Images By Kirsty Griffin

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40,000 people are believed to have fled Dili as a result of the violence and arson attacks on the city, with many thousand left homeless. ChildFund estimates that 65,000 displaced people, a large number of which are children, are living in several camps established in churches and around the air and sea ports.

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ChildFund has concerns over the conditions in these camps, which are deteriorating due to rain, overcrowding and growing tensions. Several aid agencies are assisting with food rations, drinking water and shelter items; however there is a growing need for hygiene and sanitation intervention.

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“ChildFund’s greatest concern is for the children, many of whom are deeply traumatised and in shock following their exposure to the recent violence and the dislocation from their homes and families. Homes and schools have been damaged and many children are distressed by the loss or absence of family members,” said Jane Edge, ChildFund Regional Director.

ChildFund is addressing these urgent needs by establishing Child Centred Spaces within these camps, providing safe havens for children. These spaces give children increased chances of survival and protection from abuse and exploitation, as well as opportunities for education and recreation. The Child Centred Spaces will also offer trauma and grief counselling to those children severely affected by recent violent events. ChildFund is also aiming to provide clean and accessible water and systems for the safe disposal of human waste within the camps.

ChildFund hopes to reopen its National Office in Timor Leste with 48 hours in order to begin dispensing aid. It is one of the largest aid and development agencies based in Timor Leste, committed to the country since 1999.

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Over 1,000 children from Timor Leste are sponsored by caring New Zealanders through ChildFund New Zealand. Each year this represents over $400,000 in aid for projects including schooling, healthcare, water and sanitation, nutrition, food security and livelihood interventions.

Donations can be made to ChildFund’s East Timor Appeal by calling 0800 223 111 or by visiting www.childfund.org.nz

ENDS

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