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Timor: multi-agency relief in Belu region

Briefing notes

Timor: multi-agency relief in Belu region

19 May 2000

A multi-agency effort is in full swing today along the West Timor border region of Belu to bring relief to some 50,000 people affected by flooding. Police said at least 125 people, most of them refugees, have died in the flooding caused by heavy rains and swollen rivers. The toll of lives is expected to rise as rains continue and flooding spreads. The area hosts a large number of East Timorese refugees living in tented camps which the floods have washed away.

Aerial overflights yesterday showed several thousand people marooned in villages were awaiting evacuation. Relief workers aboard rubber boats were dispatched today to rescue them. Three UN helicopters from Dili in East Timor today ferried relief supplies from UNHCR and other agencies to the disaster zone. Truck convoys carrying food, blankets, plastic sheeting, kitchen sets and mosquito nets set out this morning from both Dili and Kupang in West Timor for Belu. Water tankers and bladders are also being sent to ease an acute need for clean water. Water sources in the area have been polluted by dead animals.