Subject: Half a million displaced in E. and W. Timor: UNICEF
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 18:13:20 EDT

Half a million displaced in E. and W. Timor: UNICEF

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 16 (AFP) - As many as half a million people have been displaced from their homes in East and West Timor and face severe nutritional and health risks, the UN Children's Fund said on Thursday.

About 75,000 of the refugees -- many of them forced into West Timor by pro-Indonesia militiamen after East Timor voted for independence on August 30 -- are under the age of five, UNICEF said.

"The refugee crisis has exacerbated what had already been poor health and sanitation for the people of Timor," UNICEF's executive director Carol Bellamy said in a statement.

"There have also been several reported massacres, including severe violence to women and children. Thousands hiding in the hills of East Timor are desperate for food and shelter."

UNICEF said it was distributing 12.5 tonnes of nutritional supplements to children in camps in West Timor. This would feed 25,000 children for up to 10 days.

It said it was also providing 10,000 blankets for air drops into East Timor which the United Nations hopes to carry out on Thursday or Friday from Darwin, northern Australia.

The total cost of UNICEF's emergency relief operations in East and West Timor was estimated at five million dollars, the statement said.

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