Subject: RT: Almost Half of East Timorese Go Hungry: survey

Almost half of East Timorese go hungry - survey

DILI, East Timor, March 6 (Reuters) - Almost half East Timor's population don't have enough food to eat and eke out a living on or below the poverty line, a survey carried out with the U.N. and other international agencies showed.

The tiny territory, currently administered by the United Nations, is struggling to recover after pro-Jakarta militias went on an orgy of killing and destruction in late 1999 when East Timor overwhelmingly voted for independence from Indonesia.

"Within the region, East Timor is one of the poorest countries," Sam Rao, a consultant for the national planning and development agency, told a news conference on Wednesday.

The survey, conducted in conjunction with the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme and other international organisations, said around 340,000 people, out of a population of 800,000, live in poverty in the tiny territory.

On May 20, at one second past midnight, East Timor will officially become the first new nation of the millennium.

The head of the planning and development agency said the findings of the survey would be used by the new government to help deal with the widespread poverty.

The U.N. has administered East Timor since late 1999 when foreign peacekeepers stepped in to stem the killings after a referendum ended almost a quarter of a century of often brutal Indonesian rule.

Some 1,000 people were believed killed in the violence, according to U.N. estimates.

Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and annexed it the following year in a move never recognised by the U.N.

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