Subject: IPS: Donors pledge $520 million for East Timor

DEVELOPMENT: East Timor Gets 522 Million Dollars in Aid Pledges

By Suvendrini Kakuchi

TOKYO, Dec 17 (IPS) - Donor countries and agencies on Friday pledged 522 million U.S. dollars for the reconstruction of devastated East Timor, but kept a low profile on the touchier issue of seeking justice for the thousands estimated killed by pro-Indonesian militia.

''I am grateful for the generosity extended by the donor community, which is beyond our expectation,'' Xanana Gusmao, president of the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) and widely expected to be East Timor's first president, said as the two-day aid meeting hosted by Tokyo ended Friday.

''Reconciliation, however, is a more complex issue with other political nuances involved, which is above what is pledged by the international community,'' added Gusmao, who arrived in Tokyo Thursday to attend the meeting.

Governments and donors at the aid meeting, organised by the World Bank and the United Nations, pledged 522 million dollars in grants over the next three years.

This figure is well over the 307 million dollar figure that was expected from the meeting, attended by nearly 200 delegates from 50 countries and international agencies.

Of the 522 million dollars pledged, 149 million dollars will be geared toward humanitarian assistance.

The remaining 373 million dollars is for development and reconstruction, from which 215 million dollars will be allocated to two trust funds to be monitored by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

The trust fund will oversee sectors such as infrastructure, agriculture, health, education and macro-economics.

The second trust fund will by administered by the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) and East Timorese representatives will be responsible for approving projects and overseeing their implementation.

The 158 million dollars remaining from the fund for development and reconstruction has been pledged for other bilateral and multilateral reconstruction assistance.

Japan will provide 100 million dollars to East Timor, out of which 28 million dollars will be geared for humanitarian assistance. ''It is natural for Japan, as the leading player in Asia, to make the large pledge,'' explained Shozo Azuma from the Foreign Ministry.

He stressed however that East Timor is not only as Asian issue but an international one that requires the global community to cooperate in the nation-building process.

Japan also said that while its contribution will be disbursed through the UN trust fund, aid will also be provided to Japanese non-governmental organisations envisaged to be part of relief activities for East Timorese refugees and also to send a team of experts to study further assistance to East Timor.

Activists say the fact that grants instead of loans had been pledged to East Timor is particularly welcome, so that it can start its development ''debt-free''.

Human rights organisations reiterated their support for processes of justice and reconciliation and promotion of human rights, noting that healing of past wounds will take some time.

In a press conference held Thursday, East Timorese NGOs and their foreign supporters pledged to make the process of nation-building a simple process with active participation by the people themselves.

''The country may be devastated, but that does not mean the local mechanisms, such as grass-root organisations, and community leaders and educated East Timorse are not capable of playing a vital role in the reconstruction of their country,'' said Rieko Inoue, of the Pacific Resources Centre, a Japanese NGO.

Other NGOs involved were the East Timor NGO Forum, Amnesty International, the Australian Council for Overseas Aid and Oxfam International.

Meantime, Gusmao, answering questions from reporters, said it is important to deal with elections as quickly as possible.

As for the question of providing amnesty to people guilty of the massive killings, Gusmao said there is still ''much work to be done'' on this issue which, he described as is ''a political act''.

''We could use South Africa's example,'' he said referring to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. But then, he added, ''we cannot speak of justice and impunity here.''

In earlier remarks made at the aid conference, he explained that inclusiveness does not mean impunity. ''The question of justice will administered in East Timor and whether it will be punitive or restorative in nature is a question vital to our future and to the confidence the people will have in their governing institutions and leader,'' he said. (END/IPS/ap-if-dv/sk/js/99)

Donors pledge 520 million dollars for East Timor

TOKYO, Dec 17 (AFP) - International donors meeting in Tokyo on Friday pledged more than 520 million dollars to help East Timor's reconstruction on its path to statehood.

"Nearly 200 delegates from over 50 countries and international agencies gathered in Tokyo today to pledge over 520 million US dollars in grant funding over the next three years to rebuild East Timor and to ensure its smooth transition to future independence," a statement from co-hosts the World Bank, United Nations and the Japanese government said.

In a separate statement the European Commission pledged new funding of "at least 60 million euros (58.67 million dollars)."

"Attention is shifting from dealing with the emergency to putting East Timor on its feet for the long term," said Emiliano Fossati, the commission's Asia director.

He said East Timorese must not be swamped with development projects but should be helped "to set up an effective administration."

"They have to be fully involved at the centre of the process," he added.

Gusmao woos donors at Tokyo meeting on East Timor

TOKYO, Dec 17 (AFP) - East Timor independence leader Xanana Gusmao called on the international community Friday to take immediate action to boost food production and set up ways of helping foreign aid to his devastated territory.

"We believe that economic recovery in East Timor must be led by the agricultural sector," Gusmao said in a speech at the opening of a one-day meeting of donors to East Timor in Tokyo.

"I would like to call your attention to an urgent problem -- lack of agricultural inputs to ensure planting in the current season, before the end of the month," he said.

"In this context, I appeal to you to assist us quickly in supplying seeds and tools for farmers."

The meeting, which followed a dinner late Thursday, has brought together more than 100 officials from 30 countries mainly from Asia, North America and Europe as well as representatives of 20 international institutions.

The donor countries are expected to announce a package of assistance to the territory and to the UN Transitional Authority for East Timor (UNTAET), which is running the former Portuguese colony until independence from Indonesia.

In his speech, Gusmao called on the donors to forge a mechanism to facilitate the aid flow through a UN trust fund and a World Bank-administered trust fund.

"We need to see that all international assistance is well spent, and for this are seeking to establish a body composed of UNTAET and East Timorese representatives to oversee the delivery of foreign aid," he said.

"The situation in East Timor requires immediate action.

"Hence I also appeal to donors to ensure that the trust fund mechanisms established are as simple and flexible as possible, with clear coordinating reponsibilities, to enable quick and efficient disbursement of funds."

Gusmao, who is tipped to be East Timor's first head of state, is scheduled to meet Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi later Friday to seek help for East Timor.

East Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia in a referendum in August. The vote sparked rampant violence by militia groups opposed to independence who were backed by the Indonesian military.

The foreign ministry said Thursday that Japan had decided to extend 100 million dollars in aid to East Timor over the next three years to help its rehabilitation and development.

The sum would be Japan's contribution to a three-year, 307-million-dollar aid package expected to be agreed upon at the aid conference, Kyodo News quoted government sources as saying.

An official at the foreign ministry's Southeast Asia division said the figure could not be announced ahead of the meeting.

But he noted a World Bank mission had estimated East Timor would need 260 to 300 million dollars over the next three years.

Gusmao arrived here late Thursday after receiving the European parliament's annual Sakharov human rights prize in the French city of Strasbourg on Wednesday.

He will travel on to the Portuguese colony of Macau on Saturday to attend ceremonies marking its handover to China.


Back to December Menu
World Leaders Contact List
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu

Note: For those who would like to fax "the powers that be" - CallCenter V3.5.8, is a Native 32-bit Voice Telephony software application integrated with fax and data communications... and it's free of charge! Download from http://www.v3inc.com/