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Subject: SCMP: Tens of Thousands Go Hungry in E.Timor
Date: Sat, 20 Jun 1998 13:17:27 -0700 (PDT)

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST Saturday June 20 1998

East Timor Thousands go hungry as crops fail

JENNY GRANT More than 10 per cent of East Timorese are suffering food shortages due to drought and failed crops, aid workers said yesterday.

They said residents in the coastal districts of Suai, Maliana, Los Palos, Baucau, Manatuto and Viqueque did not have enough food.

"There are about 90,000 people along the north coast of East Timor who don't have enough to eat," said Father Francisco Barreto, whose Caritas relief organisation runs a special drought programme.

A further 20,000 people in the Suai region were also experiencing food shortages.

Gilman Esposito Dosantos of the East Timor Aid and Development Foundation said: "Their corn crops have failed because of a lack of rain. Now they are just getting by."

A Western aid representative said the next corn crop, due in two weeks, would produce only 40 per cent to 60 per cent of the expected harvest.

"There has been no decent harvest since December, so people are virtually living off nothing."

Natalia Soares' five children all show signs of malnourishment.

"Sometimes we will catch a fish, but my kitchen is empty." she said.

The family eats corn twice a day.

"The state water company cut off our water because the village couldn't pay the bills," Mrs Soares said.