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Caritas receives counterfeit clothing for East Timor

Caritas Australia has received a donation of counterfeit clothing confiscated by the Australian Federal Police in Brisbane for distribution to communities in need in East Timor.

Caritas Australia's National Director, Jack de Groot received the donation from Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, in Brisbane yesterday.

More than 1050 articles of clothing including singlets, shorts, caps and backpacks will be distributed by Caritas Australia to communities in the isolated region of Oecussi in East Timor. This area was particularly devastated by the militia violence of September 1999, with over 75% of the population displaced and between 80% and 90% of all houses and public buildings destroyed. When the displaced people returned to their villages, many found that all of their possessions had been burnt or stolen.

The people of Oecussi have been working to rebuild their communities over the last 18 months. Village leaders last week told Caritas Australia staff that they believed that their lives will be better in an independent East Timor, but that they still suffer as a consequence of the violence they experienced.

"The donation of this clothing to communities in Oecussi will make a difference in the lives of people who are striving to rehabilitate villages devastated by the violence of 1999. This gesture is another step in the solidarity of the Australian people with the people of East Timor," said Jack de Groot, Caritas Australia's National Director.

Caritas Australia has made a significant contribution to the emergency relief and rehabilitation effort in East Timor. The agency has delivered emergency food supplies to over 40,000 people and is providing materials for the rebuilding of 4000 houses in traditional East Timorese style. Caritas Australia is also working to build long-term food security in East Timor through supporting community garden projects throughout the Oecussi region.

The clothing donated to Caritas Australia was seized during a 1999 Australian Federal Police investigation that led to the arrest of two men and a woman who were selling the counterfeit clothing at local markets.