Caritas Australia has identified six target areas in devastated East Timor for emergency operations that will include provision of food and shelter, and health and agricultural assistance.
    The areas it has targeted for emergency services are Dili, Liquisa, Ermera, Manatutu, Baucau and Viqueque, according to Fr Sanny Sanedrin, officer-in-charge of Asia and Oceania Services at the Vatican-based Caritas Internationalis.
    A major problem in planning emergency relief has been lack of accurate and reliable information on the current situation in the territory.
    Fr Sanedrin said on Monday that a high-level delegation of 10 country representatives is travelling to Dili today (Wednesday) on an assessment mission, and it is hoped that the mission will gather needed information.
    Caritas Australia has set up an office in Darwin in a building which is shared with seven other non government organisations working on the East Timor emergency, making it a base for NGO communications.
    The World Food Program has allocated Catholic Relief Services, the US bishops' relief and development arm, a quota of 1,500 tons of food for the emergency program, and Caritas Australia will facilitate the distribution of this food, Father Sanedrin said.
    Caritas Australia is coordinating with other NGOs and UN bodies to complete shelter and household assistance packages to target 100,000 people in the initial emergency relief phase, which is expected to last three months.
    Catholic Health Australia is coordinating an appeal to both private and public hospitals in Australia to give medicine and medical supplies to Caritas Australia for East Timor, Fr Sanedrin reported.
    In addition to emergency food and non-food items, a priority for Caritas Australia is provision of farming needs, the Fr Sanhedrin said. He explained that in terms of food security over the medium term, it is essential that farmers plant maize during October. It is assumed at this stage that farmers do not have any seeds at all and there is also doubt that they will have access to basic tools, he reported.
    Caritas Australia is planning on using the Catholic network in East Timor for implementation of distribution and rehabilitation plans.
    It also expects that priests and sisters will emerge as soon as they are aware that Caritas has established a presence, and that they will play a significant role in humanitarian operations and camp management.
    During the transitional phase, tentatively identified as months three to six, Caritas Australia may need to support roofing for institutions like schools and churches to provide shelter for internally displaced people.
    It plans to employ a food-for-work program for reconstruction of community housing, transportation of local building materials, start-up projects and preparation of agricultural land.
    Some Caritas East Timor staff have been located in the last five days, although many are still unaccounted for. It is anticipated that all remaining Caritas East Timor staff will play significant roles in the emergency operations and beyond, Father Sanedrin said.
    Caritas director Father Francisco dos Santos Fatima Barreto is among those known to have been killed during the militia-led terror.
    UCAN 11:44am 22/9/99

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