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Caritas emergency food aid to East Timor

Caritas Australia will begin emergency food distribution in East Timor from next Monday, following two years of drought that have drastically reduced food supplies in the fledgling nation.

The organisation's national director Jack de Groot, who has just returned from an inspection tour of East Timor, told the Catholic Weekly that people in the mountains were already harvesting wild crops to supplement their food supplies.

"These will not provide much nutrition but they will fill their stomachs," he said. "The situation is likely to be desperate for the next few months.

Mr de Groot said there would be problems with food availability until March, when the next harvest comes in.

"The problem has been caused by two years of drought, and before that by the Indonesian supported militia destroying food crops and seed stocks," he said. "People have come across from Oecussi, the enclave in West Timor, with a few cattle to sell because they have run out of food. There were groups of them camped around Dili while we were there.

"Fortunately, it has been raining for the last couple of weeks so it seems there will be a good rainy season and a decent harvest next year."

Caritas emergency food aid to E Timor (Catholic Weekly 7/12/03)

Caritas Australia | East Timor
East Timor faces new crises (Caritas Australia media release 5/11/03)

3 Dec 2003