Subject: Australia Will double aid to East Timor to A$8m, Downer says

Bloomberg, July 2, 2006

Australia Will double aid to East Timor to A$8m, Downer says

SYDNEY: Australia will double humanitarian aid to East Timor to A$8 million (US$6 million) after a United Nations warning that food supplies are running low, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said.

"We've had some reports, not that food is running out, but that food supplies are getting lower," Downer told Channel Ten's Meet the Press program Sunday. "If nothing is done for several weeks, then this will become a real problem."

East Timor's Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri of the left-leaning, ruling Fretilin Party resigned on June 26, after weeks of public demonstrations and a call by President Xanana Gusmao for him to step down. Alkatiri has been blamed for creating ethnic divisionsthat sparked violence in the country since March that killed at least 21 people and forced more than 130,000 to flee from their homes.

A 2,500-member international peacekeeping force, including 1,300 soldiers and police from Australia, as well as units from Malaysia, New Zealand and former colonial master Portugal arrived in East Timor in May to maintain security.

East Timor, or Timor-Leste, a country of about 1 million people, voted for independence in a 1999 referendum after a 24-year occupation by Indonesia -- which invaded the territory after Portugal colonial administration fled amid a civil war colony in 1975 -- for the fear of a communist domino effect after the U.S. was utterly defeated in Vietnam liberation war.

East Timor, which became independent in May 2002, lies about 500 kilometers north of Australia.

--------------- Joyo Indonesia News Service

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