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UNICEF provides aid to Timorese displaced by conflict

DILI, 30 May 2006 – Aid has begun to reach the thousands of Timorese living in camps around East Timor’s capital city of Dili, displaced by conflict.  The Australian army’s presence in Dili has improved the security situation and UNICEF and other agencies have been able to reach people living in crowded conditions and in desperate need of food, access to clean water and sanitation, and protection for children.  There are an estimated 70,000 residing in camps in Dili alone and another 45,000 who have moved to the districts.

While food and water is in critical demand, people in these camps are also in need of preventative healthcare, protection and help for women who are having babies in difficult situations.  Three babies were born over the last three days in the camp opposite the UN Compound, with the help of a midwife from the national hospital, who was also a refugee in the camp along with 3,000 others.

"Help has to reach these camps immediately; babies are being born in these camps under conditions which are unsuitable.  They and their mothers need looking after.  We need to take care of the preventive health care needs of these people," says Shui-Meng Ng, UNICEF Representative for Timor-Leste.

A team from UNICEF visited nine out of an estimated 35 camps in the city to assess the situation and to provide clean water and dry latrines.  Many in the larger camps are unable to return home because their houses have been completely destroyed or looted.  These camps have overflowing toilets, stagnant water and piling garbage.

While UNICEF and other aid agencies are providing critical aid, more support is required, including basic family water kits, tarpaulin, water tanks, field water testing kits and squatting plates for latrines.  UNICEF hygiene promotion volunteers will organize in-camp teams to clean garbage, toilets and regulate the water supply.  With the security situation improving, there is hope that these activities will commence soon.

UNICEF is a critical member of the Inter-agency Humanitarian Assistance group  comprised of the following agencies, led by the Ministry of Labour and Reinsertion, Government of Timor-Leste: WHO, IOM, UNDP, UNFPA, WFP, International Red Cross, Cruz Vermelha De Timor-Leste (National Red Cross), Oxfam Australia, Plan International, Health Net, Red Cross, Care International, Catholic Relief Services and Caritas Australia.

About UNICEF: For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:
Shui-Meng Ng, Representative, UNICEF, Timor-Leste
Tel. +670 723 1097
Email sng@unicef.org

Madhavi Ashok, Communication Officer, UNICEF, Timor-Leste
Tel: +670 723 1103
Email mashok@unicef.org





30 March 2006:
UNICEF's Country Representative in Timor-Leste, Shui-Meng Ng, explains how recent violence there has affected children and women.
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