Subject: ABC: Flood-affected in Dili may be evacuated: Gusmao

Last Update: Wednesday, December 13, 2006. 7:29am (AEDT)

Flood-affected in Dili may be evacuated: Gusmao

East Timor's President Xanana Gusmao says there are plans to evacuate thousands of displaced people living in flooded refugee camps in the capital Dili if the situation deteriorates further.

Mr Gusmao was in Sydney last night to address a business gathering at the New South Wales Parliament.

There are fears of a new humanitarian emergency in the country, with torrential rains flooding low-lying areas, leaving many of the refugee camps in the capital submerged in water.

Mr Gusmao says the Government has a strategy to move people from several of the camps to either new housing sites that are almost finished being built, or other temporary accommodation.

"If the floods make [life] difficult, they will take the people out of there immediately," he said.

Mr Gusmao also broke down during a speech in which he described the fledging nation's efforts to rebuild and unify after its troubled past.

Mr Gusmao told members of the Australia-East Timor Business Council that the Government's main priorities are to create jobs for young people and overcome the country's ongoing security problems.

But he became emotional when describing a show of unity between police and soldiers during a recent reconciliation march in the capital Dili, and similar scenes with rival gangs embracing each other.

Mr Gusmao moved to assure Australia that East Timor is a safe place to do business, saying United Nations police numbers will soon be boosted to ensure stability.

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