Subject: UN appeals for US$199 million of humanitarian aid for E. Timor

UN appeals for 199 million dollars of humanitarian aid for East Timor

DILI, East Timor, Oct 27 (AFP) - The United Nations on Wednesday launched an appeal to raise 199 million dollars of humanitarian aid to help the people of East Timor survive the next nine months.

"Rarely has a short crisis resulted in such extensive damage to such a large percentage of the total population," said Lise Grande, spokeswoman for the Office of the Coordinator of Humanitarian Aid (OCHA).

"Virtually every family in East Timor has been affected; 75 percent of all East Timorese were displaced and 70 percent of private residences, public buildings and essential utilities were destroyed," she said.

Grande said the most urgent humanitarian task was to ensure the people of the shattered territory had access to food, water and medical supplies.

But she said the program was also aimed at laying the groundwork for future economic development through community-led intitiatives such as micro-credit and efforts to rebuild the social infrastructure.

The appeal comes two days before the arrival of teams from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund on missions to study how to rebuild the economy.

The infrastructure of East Timor was almost totally destroyed in a violent rampage by pro-Indonesia militias after a UN-sponsored referendum on August 30 produced a massive vote in favour of independence from Indonesia.

Grande said some funds would also be channeled to Indonesian West Timor to help resettle East Timorese who fled there and who do not wish to return home.

An estimated 260,000 East Timorese fled, voluntarily or through intimidation, to West Timor during the violence that followed the August 30 vote, and so far around 23,600 have returned.

Tens of thousands of East Timorese are also still living in the hill regions of the territory, reluctant to return to towns and villages for fear of renewed militia violence.

Grande said around 73 million dollars was earmarked for coping with the return of refugees, including shelter, 33 million dollars was for food aid and food security, 27 million dollars for health and 10 million dollars for education.

The remainder would go towards water and sanitation, infrastructure and economic recovery, as well as coordination and logistics

Money will also be used to help the victims of trauma, she said.

East Timor was Tuesday formally placed under the control of a transitional United Nations administration to prepare the former Portuguese colony for full independence.

The United Nations Transitional Administration for East Timor will be backed by the largest current UN peacekeeping operation in the world with a UN force of some 8,950 troops and cost around one billion dollars per year.

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