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USGOV: Food aid to E Timor

Date: Tue, 09 Jun 1998 18:09:17 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <etan@etan.org>

April 3, 1998

The President The White House Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We arc greatly concerned about the prospect of food shortages and related humanitarian problems in East Timor caused by drought. We recognize that other areas in the region are affected, but because of the history of hunger in East Timor, notably the catastrophic famine that struck in the late I 970s and led to well over 100,000 deaths which might have been averted had there been timely action, we are alarmed over the possibility of any recurrence in any part of East Timorese territory.

For instance, recent reports indicate that there are serious food and medical problems on the offshore island of Atauro, and that similar problems are developing along East Timor's northern coast as well as in other places. Enclosed is a news story from the South China Morning Post describing the situation.

We believe that the international community, and especially the United States, must encourage timely action to ensure that such problems are dealt with as a matter of the utmost urgency. In light of the intense suffering East Timor has endured, we believe that your Administration should act to prevent further catastrophe.

We strongly hope that the United States will use its influence with Indonesia to guarantee that any overseas aid that is needed can enter East Timor without restriction, and that people in need receive all the help they require as soon as possible.

We recognize that you have raised the issue of East Timor with President Suharto on previous occasions, and thank you for your consideration of the current matter. Because of East Timor's tragic history since 1975, Congress feels a special responsibility to carefully monitor these developments on an ongoing basis.

Sincerely yours,

Tony P. Hall Member of Congress

Frank Wolf Member of Congress

Enclosure

--- U S Agency for International Development MAY 22, 1998

The Honorable Tony P Hall House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515

Dear Congressman Hall:

Mr. Atwood has asked me to reply to your letter of April 15, 1998, concerning Bishop Belo's article inquiring about the possibility of U.S. assistance to help alleviate food shortages in Indonesia.

I am pleased to advise you that our office of Food for Peace has committed $25 million in P.L. 480, Title II emergency food aid in response to the drought in Indonesia. of this amount, $4.4 million has already been provided via CARE/Atlanta for 50,000 of the most severely affected people in East Timor. Further,. our affice of Foreign Disaster Assistance has provided nearly $600,000 in disaster relief assistance, including funding for medical assistance, food security projects and the transport of relief supplies to isolated areas. Beyond these short-term measures, USAID/Indonesia has allocated $6 million in Development Assistance (DA) to carry out medium-term food security activities. Therefore, U.S, emergency aid for the Indonesia drought to date totals nearly $36 million.

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. Please let us know when this office can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,

Robert K. Boyer Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs

----- THE WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON

May 6, 1998

Dear Tony:

Thank you for your letter regarding food shortages in East Timor resulting from severe drought. As you may know, Indonesian efforts to import sufficient rood have been complicated by the financial crisis, and the United States, therefore, has explored ways we might be helpful.

Last month, a USAID assessment mission visited the region and reported that shortages from failed crops and delayed harvests appear to be the most severe in the eastern island provinces of Nusa Tengara Barat, Nusa Tengara Timur and East Timor. To address this problem, we recently announced a $50 million food assistance package for Indonesia, of which a substantial portion will be for the eastern Islands. Our implementation of this assistance effort will be channeled through CARE, Catholic Relief Services and the World Food Program to target the food needs for the most vulnerable segments of the population. In addition, we will continue to monitor the situation and look for future opportunities to be helpful.

Thank you for your interest in this important issue.

Sincerely, /s Bill

The Honorable Tony P. Hall House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515

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