|East Timor||MILITIA DISRUPTS HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS|
An unnamed Australian church worker visited a refugee camp in Maubara, East Timor, last week to distribute emergency food supplies, only to find that people had disappeared. A Caritas Australia statement documents her experience, blaming pro-integration militia for continuing to deliberately impede humanitarian relief efforts.
"Last week I visited the area where around 500 families had been forcibly moved from their homes by armed militia members. These people were suffering in appalling conditions and access to them was controlled by the militia.
"When I visited again this week, locals said that the families were forcibly moved into West Timor or up into the mountains," the Church worker said.
Despite the difficulties experienced in providing food and medical relief, distribution continues to operate successfully in many areas.
Caritas East Timor delivered 45 tonnes of food aid to Bacau this week. Internally displaced people congregating in areas just outside of Dili are also being attended to. Approximately 200 refugees turn up to the Dili office each day for food assistance.
Caritas has also organised health teams, with the assistance of foreign volunteers, to visit many regional areas. A recent visit to Manatuto discovered fifty new cases of tuberculosis.
Health workers are eager to reach the displaced who are living in overcrowded conditions with little access to fresh water and food. These conditions mean the potential for a health epidemic is high. Workers will continue to visit as many clinics as possible around the country.
Caritas 11:38am 21/6/99