Subject: AFP: E Timor gets $81.5m aid

E Timor gets $81.5m aid

21oct02 AFP

THE European Commission has signed an agreement with East Timor, the world's newest country, to provide 46 million euros ($81.5 million) in aid over three years.

The funds will be put towards a work program to support East Timor's long-term development, focused on health care, rural development and poverty-reduction targets, the EC said.

"An indicative sum of 46 million euros in grants for 2002-2004 has been earmarked to finance this programme for East Timor," it said.

About 80 per cent of the infrastructure of the small South-East Asian state was destroyed in a campaign of terror by pro-Indonesian militias after the country voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence from Jakarta in August 1999.

The impoverished nation has only 47 doctors for a population of 850,000, according to the World Health Organization.

The average life expectancy is 57 years and 40 per cent of the people live on less than $1 a day, well below the threshold of extreme poverty fixed at $US1 ($1.80).

The EC has already contributed about 137 million euros ($243 million) for humanitarian relief, the setting up of the United Nations Transitional Administration, election support and rehabilitation programs implemented through the Trust Fund for East Timor.

East Timor officially became independent on May 20 this year, and in September it became the 191st member of the United Nations.

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