INDEPENDENT NEWS

Timor Aid Effort Drives Deeper Into Western Areas

Published: Thu 21 Oct 1999 10:16 AM
Helicopter helps WV relief push in East Timor
Reported by James Addis in East Timor
World Vision pushed its aid effort further into East Timor's troubled
western regions today delivering the first food relief to Bobonaro - 30km
from the West Timor border.
Many jubilant villagers kissed the hands of aid workers as they distributed
the supplies.
The deliveries were made using a Russian MI 17 helicopter supplied by the
World Food Program. The helicopter made six rotations in one day - the
highest so far achieved during the current crisis.
In addition to delivering 290 sacks of rice, the aid and development agency
also supplied soap, blankets and tarpaulins.
Hundreds of villagers returned to Bobonaro in the last six days to find most
of their homes burned completely to the ground by pro-integrationist
militia.
Parish priest Father Rene Manubaj said the blankets and tarpaulins were
essential since Bobonaro's high altitude left many freezing at night. A lack
of soap also meant many suffered from scabies.
Local woman Maria Guterrez, standing in the ruins of her former home, said
the rice would make a welcome change from the roots and cassava, her family
had been forced to live on over the past month.
Mrs Guterrez said during the militia rampage, villagers were herded into the
marketplace in an attempted forced evacuation. She said during this time
pro-integrationist forces dragged screaming young girls away from the market
area and raped them.
World Vision logistician Duncan Grey of Auckland said the helicopter
operation was an excellent way to reach areas such as Bobonaro, which might
otherwise only be accessed via unsecured roads. "These are the places where
the needs are. I'd like this to be the first of many helicopter
expeditions," he said.
Donations can be made to World Vision's East Timor appeal by ringing 0800 80
2000, or sending cheques to World Vision Timor Appeal, Private Bag 92078,
Auckland.
Selwyn Manning - Scoop Auckland
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