Dear Co-chairwoman, dear Co-chairman, dear Colleagues,
When we were listening to the report of Ambassador of East Timor, I believe we all felt strong sympathy in this difficult situation. Establishing democracy is sometimes a painstaking process but it is always worth it. A wise theologian and philosopher Niebuhr once said that man's capacity to good makes it possible and man´s inclination to evil makes it necessary. Therefore, much wisdom is needed, so is much forgiveness. But also resources, both political and material.
East-Timor is one of the youngest nations in the world. The independence of the country is barely four years old and the country's population is still suffering from the huge losses of the 25 years of Indonesian rule.
The current crisis started in April of this year. Unrest has followed the riots in Dili, tha capital of East Timor, associated with protests over the dismissal of around 600 army soldiers, around 40 percent of the military, for desertion. Fierce fighting between pro-government troops and disaffected Falintil troops broke out in May 2006. While unclear, the motives behind the fighting appear to be the distribution of oil funds and the poor organization of the Timorese army and police, which includes former Indonesian police and former Timorese rebels.
The fact is that tens of thousands of people, some estimate up to 133.000, have fled Dili since the violence started. The UN OCHA (= Office for the coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) has warned the international community that the refugee situation could get even worse.
When discussing the current conditions in East Timor, we have to remember that we are dealing with one of the poorest countries in the world. East Timor has the lowest per capita GDP in the world of only 400 US dollars. Illiteracy is also still widespread. The need for foreign relief is crucial. The United Nations refugee agency has already brought up emergency relief operations in East-Timor. But the need for humanitarian aid still exists.
Although the situation has calmed down a bit in Dili, the conditions of people in the refugee camps are not secure and especially at night their physical security cannot at the moment be guaranteed. The conditions in these camps are especially difficult for those in need of medical treatments and of course pregnant women. Not having adequate transport to specialized medical services provided by the hospital puts woman at a much higher risk of even common maternal health issues becoming critical or life-threatening.
A critical step towards the normalization of the East Timor situation is to help in restarting the judicial process. It is important for the Timorese people to see that justice is served effectively and justly. The international community should do everything to help getting this process on the way.
News of an inquiry by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights into any human rights violations during the violence is also very welcome.