Timor-Leste: Funding urgently needed

Briefing Notes, 9 June 2006

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 9 June 2006, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

We urgently need funding of some US$4.8 million for our operation to help tens of thousands of displaced people in Timor-Leste. So far funds have been slow in arriving, with only $286,000 from Australia, $185,000 from private donors in Australia, and 50,000 Euros from the Government of Germany. We hope with the launch of the UN Flash Appeal shortly that donors will give generously. UNHCR, as part of the joint UN effort, is involved in providing emergency shelter, basic items and protection for up to 30,000 internally displaced people (IDPs).

The first wave of our emergency airlift to Timor-Leste finished earlier this morning (Friday), with the arrival in the capital Dili of the third Antonov-12 flight from Darwin. The Antonov was ferrying in supplies that had been flown to the northern Australian city earlier in the week from our regional stockpiles in Jordan on two Boeing-747 UNHCR charter flights. Some 56 tonnes of tents, blankets, plastic sheeting and jerry cans are now on the ground in Dili. A barge is scheduled to leave Darwin on Sunday morning, arriving in Dili on Monday, with the remainder of the supplies from the airlift. At that stage, we will have supplies for over 17,000 displaced people in Dili. In total, we plan to send 400 tonnes of supplies in phases.

Security is still a major concern for the more than 65,000 or so displaced in Dili. We are now in the process of trying to ease congestion in the 40 or so makeshift encampments around Dili and improve living conditions. UNHCR site planners, programme, field and protection staff have been meeting with priests, IDP representatives, government and other humanitarian organisations to identify those sites most urgently in need. Work is already under way on two sites Don Bosco College and the airport clearing the ground to pitch tents to ease congestion. Today, 40 tents were delivered to the National Hospital to accommodate hospital staff whose houses have been destroyed. UNHCR is also liaising with the government to consider the feasibility of additional planned camps.