Subject: KY: Indonesia to send humanitarian assistance to E. Timor

Thursday June 8, 5:55 PM

Indonesia to send humanitarian assistance to E. Timor

(Kyodo) _ Indonesia will send humanitarian assistance worth $700,000 to East Timor following violence between military and police factions and civil unrest in the tiny country, which Indonesia had occupied for 24 years.

"The president has instructed the concerned ministers to prepare humanitarian assistance to be sent to East Timor at the request of East Timor President Xanana Gusmao," Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Aburizal Bakrie told a press conference after meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

"The government and people of Indonesia will donate $700,000 in the form of food and medical assistance, basic commodities, water tanks and other things," he added.

According to Bakrie, Indonesia's military would fly two Hercules transport aircraft carrying relief supplies to Dili on Thursday evening. More humanitarian assistance would follow later, he said.

Bakrie, as well as Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono, stressed, however, that no military assistance will be sent to East Timor.

"Better not," Sudarsono told reporters. "If we are involved (in sending military troops), there would be some suspicions, so it's better for us to keep a distance and let them solve their own domestic problems."

"I think they are not going to seek military assistance from us because of past psychological sensitivities," he said, referring to Indonesia's long occupation of the former Portuguese colony that ended in 1999 when its people voted overwhelmingly for independence.

The vote was followed by a campaign of killing and burning by pro-Jakarta militiamen, many of whom have since settled in Indonesia's West Timor.

The pledge of humanitarian assistance came only three days after Yudhoyono protested recent remarks by East Timor's Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri that former pro-Jakarta East Timorese militiamen might be involved in the unrest that began two months ago.

The unrest followed Alkatiri's firing of 600 soldiers of the country's 1,400-strong army after they went on strike to protest alleged discrimination by commanders from the eastern part of the country against soldiers from the west.

The situation has deteriorated into chaos in which at least 30 people have died. The violence has involved not only military and police factions but also rival ethnic gangs, which have been looting and torching houses and buildings.

Aid workers estimate 100,000 Dili residents have fled to more than 30 camps in the capital, while up to 40,000 others are scattered throughout the country.

Last month, Australia deployed 1,300 troops and dozens of police to East Timor following a request from the fledgling nation's government. Malaysia, New Zealand and Portugal have also contributed security personnel.

Back to June menu
May menu      
World Leaders Contact List
Main Postings Menu