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More New Zealand Aid For East Timor

MEDIA STATEMENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

11 October 1999

MORE NEW ZEALAND AID FOR EAST TIMOR

New Zealand will provide a further $1 million in humanitarian relief to East Timor, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley announced today. This sum is in addition to the $250,000 announced on Friday.

"These funds will be used to help East Timorese returning to their homes, as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has now told countries, including New Zealand, that we no longer need to take in displaced East Timorese, Mrs Shipley said.

"The UNHCR has advised that its effort is now going into relocating displaced East Timorese back into East Timor. Initial repatriation flights to East Timor have gone smoothly. Cooperation with the local Indonesian authorities has been very good and we are advised that the reception, humanitarian, and security needs of people returning to Dili can be managed satisfactorily.

"In light of the UNHCR?s advice, it is no longer necessary or appropriate to proceed with the earlier plans to offer safe haven in New Zealand for up to 300 East Timorese displaced people," Mrs Shipley said.

"I want to extend our thanks to all those groups and individuals who offered support and services for the earlier safe haven initiative.

"New Zealand remains determined to assist with building an effective humanitarian response to the crisis in East Timor. We have made several contributions already, but it is clear that people returning to East Timor need building materials for shelter, and agricultural supplies, to help them re-establish themselves before the wet season begins.

"The UN agencies helping them also need funds to set up bases in towns outside Dili. The success of the initial repatriation flights, and the numbers of displaced persons returning to East Timor, make these needs all the greater.

"A lasting solution in East Timor is clearly in New Zealand?s national interest. We will continue to work with UN agencies, the other countries involved in the effort, New Zealand aid organisations and the people of East Timor," the Prime Minister said.

ENDS


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