Subject: Caritas emergency food aid to East Timor

Caritas emergency food aid to E Timor

By Chris Lindsay

Caritas Australia will begin emergency food distribution in East Timor from Monday (December 8). Two years of drought has drastically reduced food supplies in the fledgling nation.

Caritas Australia national director Jack de Groot, who has just returned from an inspection tour of East Timor, said people in the mountains were already harvesting wild crops to supplement their food supplies.

"These will not provide much nutrition but they will fill their stomachs," he said. "The situation is likely to be desperate for the next few months.

"There will be a real difficulty with food availability until March, when the next harvest comes in.

"The problem has been caused by two years of drought, and before that by the Indonesian supported militia destroying food crops and seed stocks.

"People have come across from Oecussi, the enclave in West Timor, with a few cattle to sell because they have run out of food. There were groups of them camped around Dili while we were there.

"Fortunately, it has been raining for the last couple of weeks so it seems there will be a good rainy season and a decent harvest next year."

A World Food Program shipload of rice from Vietnam arrived in Dili harbour last week.

"Caritas Australia will be working with Caritas Dili to distribute food in Oecussi," Mr de Groot said.

"Caritas Dili and Caritas Baucau will take care of the main area of East Timor, and we will help where we can."

SOURCE <http://www.catholicweekly.com.au/03/dec/7/08.html>Caritas emergency food aid to E Timor (Catholic Weekly <http://www.catholicweekly.com.au/03/dec/7/08.html>Dec 7 2003)


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