Mission head hit by stone-throwing mob

The head of Don Bosco mission in East Timor has been attacked by a stone-throwing mob as he drove victims of a gunfight to hospital while Australian troops struggle to restore order in the divided capital Dili.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that just minutes after Australian peacekeepers departed from the Catholic mission of Don Bosco, a gunfight broke out. Two men were shot and wounded, one in the leg and the other in the abdomen.

The head of the mission, Br Adriano de Jesus, said a squad of troops had been guarding the mission but pulled out when they were ordered to go elsewhere. "We asked them not to leave," Br de Jesus said. "But they said they had to go. Straight away the fighting broke out again and [the two men] were shot."

As he drove the victims to hospital, the vehicle was attacked by a mob throwing stones, and Br De Jesus was hit on the head. "The fighting is getting worse and the Australian troops are only watching the Timorese kill each other."

On the main road between the airport and the city, pitched battles raged all day. At one point Australians soldiers drove by at great speed in their armoured personnel carriers as a man was dragged from his car and beaten.

In the market in Fatuhada in west Dili, a violent brawl and machete fight broke out between two warring groups. Eight homes, shops and market stalls were burned to the ground.

Meanwhile, Caritas Australia is deploying additional Australian staff to East Timor to assess the situation. The staff are due to arrive in Dill today.

"The staff are part of an assessment team who will assist in the Caritas humanitarian response for the immediate relief needed by thousands of internally displaced people following the civil unrest," said Chief Executive Officer Jack de Groot.

Caritas says it is working in conjunction with its international Caritas partners who have formed a joint assessment team to coordinate the Caritas humanitarian response.

"The Caritas network is responding to the shortage of basic requirements for the thousands of displaced people. There is an urgent need for food, water and sanitation for the people," said Mr de Groot.

The assessment team will be in the area for the next five to ten days to coordinate the sourcing of resources and undertake risk management.
An Australian psychologist from Caritas Australias' partner agency, Jesuit Refugee Service, will also be joining the team on the ground to provide trauma counselling.

Everything is under control: the message from HQ (Sydney Morning Herald 31/5/06)
Caritas Australia scales up humanitarian response in Dili (Caritas Australia 30/5/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Caritas Australia

Catholic Mission supporting sanctuary for Dili children (CathNews 30/5/06)
Caritas monitoring Dili crisis (CathNews 29/5/06)
Aid agencies alarmed at growing violence in East Timor (CathNews 26/5/06)
Josephite says unemployment underlies Timor trouble (CathNews 25/5/06)
Priest calls frightened Timorese home (CathNews 22/5/06)
Church joins fray in Timor (CathNews 17/5/06)
Diocese prepares to aid fleeing East Timor refugees (CathNews 11/5/06)
East Timor Catholic leaders appeal for calm after riot (CathNews 5/5/06)
Thousands shelter in Catholic centres after East Timor riots (CathNews 3/5/06)

Two wounded after troop leaves (The Australian 30/5/06)

31 May 2006