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Daily Media Review UNOTIL 22 June 2006

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International Police ask Alkatiri to step aside to follow investigation”

Daily Media Review
Thursday, 22 June 2006

National Media Reports

UN maintains impartiality in justice

STL reported that the Head of UNOTIL, SRSG Hasegawa at press conference said, “The people of the nation of Timor-Leste are entitled to human and civic rights, and the right to assemble and hold demonstrations.” He said all citizens of Timor-Leste have the right to be protected against accusations that are incorrect and that the United Nations will maintain its impartiality and independence to achieve justice and the truth.

According to STL, reporting on the protest by some youth groups calling for the resignation of PM Alkatiri, SRSG reportedly said that to heal the nation, there must be a sustainable government and development. He said now is the time for justice for all and the time to prepare for free and fair elections. .

STL also reported that SRSG Hasegawa said during the press conference on Wednesday, that the Australian Federal Police felt uneasy in detaining the Vice-President of Fretilin, Rogério Lobato, out of respect for the sovereign state. Hasegawa stressed that unlike 1999, Timor-Leste is a sovereign state and is carrying its responsibilities as a State He said that the nation is a temporarily broken state, not a failed one.

In a separate article, SRSG reportedly said UNOTIL’s mandate had been extended by two months until August 20, 2006 (STL)

“International Police ask Alkatiri to step aside to follow investigation”

Mari Alkatiri has been given a 46-hour deadline, starting today, 22/6 to step aside from his current position as Prime Minister and to follow the investigation process regarding allegations of the distribution of guns to civilians, reported Suara Timor Lorosae (STL). According to the report, citing a reliable source, the accusation is in relation to the distribution of guns to the civilians with the aim to kill his enemies. The International Police gave two days to Alkatiri to step down and wait for the United Nations investigation commission, STL reported. (STL)

Railos and Paulo Martins attend state council meeting

Suara Timor Lorosae (STL) reported that the leader of the ‘death squad’ Vicente da Conceição Rai Los and Commander of PNTL Paulo Martins attended the State Council meeting yesterday at the Palacio das Cinzas. STL further reported that Rai Los' accusations that the former Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato and Prime Minister Alkatiri allegedly armed civilians. According to the report, Rai Los accused Prime Minister Alkatiri of ordering his former Minister of Interior to arm civilians. Alkatiri denied all accusations and said that such accusation is "trying to weaken FRETILIN party and the government before the upcoming election," (STL)

International Media Reports

(Sydney Morning Herald Online) - The depth of Australia's military commitment to East Timor has been revealed in an urgent tender document for the establishment and maintenance of a base for up to 3,000 soldiers and civilian support staff from Australia and "coalition partners".

There are 2600 Australian Defence Force personnel in Timor and a large presence is expected to be maintained at least until next year's elections.

The base is to be a virtual township complete with everything from a sewerage system to a swimming pool. It is to be built in Timor and maintained for up to 15 months, the documents reveal.

The tender was opened just this month and closed at midday yesterday, with some services to be available by next month and the base to be up and running by August 24. The Defence Department was unable to comment on the apparent haste of the project.

No matter how difficult and dangerous life on the streets of Timor might be for soldiers, the Government is going out of its way to make life in the camp as comfortable as possible.

(Sydney Morning Herald Online)
- East Timor's Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri, will "probably" resign within two days, a close aide said, as prosecutors worked on legal charges against him over transfer of police guns to a secret hit squad in the ruling Fretilin party.

Mr Alkatiri was preparing to discuss quitting with his senior party colleagues today, and would convene a special meeting of his cabinet tomorrow to discuss a letter from the President, Xanana Gusmao, urging him to quit over the arms issue.

Asked whether Mr Alkatiri would resign, the aide said: "Most probably, yes."

Mr Gusmao wrote to Mr Alkatiri on Tuesday, saying he had lost confidence in him after watching Monday night's Four Corners program on ABC television about the hit squad.
If Mr Alkatiri decides to dig in against Mr Gusmao's resignation demand, East Timor faces a new level of tension and possible violence.


ABC online:

Houses burnt as Dili tensions flare
By Anne Barker in Dili

There has been another spate of arson attacks in East Timor's capital, Dili, as pressure mounts to remove Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.

Homes and buildings were set ablaze last night in the space of a couple of hours.
At least six buildings were destroyed in fires that authorities say appeared to be deliberately lit.
Tensions are rising in Dili as speculation mounts that Dr Alkatiri will bow to pressure to resign.
He has been asked to quit his post by President Xanana Gusmao.
Demonstrators have been positioned opposite his parliamentary offices since Tuesday, demanding his removal.

The governing Fretilin Party is meeting with Dr Alkatiri today to discuss his future.

Relief web:

21 June 2006, Dili--Sukehiro Hasegawa, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative in Timor-Leste said today, "We cannot turn back the clock" in this crisis-torn country.

He told a press conference," The international community should not take over the functions of the state. We are not back in 2000 or 1999. We cannot turn back the clock."

A UN Peacekeeping operation arrived in 1999 to quell widespread violence and administered the state until it became independent in May of 2002.

"Timor-Leste, he said, "is a temporarily broken state, but it is not a failed state."
Some 145,000 persons have been forced to flee their homes in Timor-Leste since fighting broke out in late April.

"I am confident that Timor-Leste can overcome the current crisis, and this temporary setback," he said. The international community has the responsibility to protect the people, rebuild the country and prevent a slide backwards."

Hasegawa thanked Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Portugal for having sent in security forces to stabilize the country. He also thanked the international donors for their response to an emergency appeal launched last week, reporting today that some $13.8 had been pledged or committed in the appeal for almost $19 million.

Earlier in the day Hasegawa met with a group of demonstrators.

"Everyone in this country has human and civil rights, including the right to demonstrate and assemble and express opinions," he said.

"Our position," he said, "is that we remain impartial and independent."

Radio New Zealand

Former East Timor politician charged over unrest

Prosecutors in East Timor say former interior minister, Rogerio Lobato, could face up to 15 years in jail if he is convicted on charges of distributing weapons to civilians.

Prosecutors issued a warrant for his arrest earlier this week and Australian troops took Mr Lobato into custody on Thursday morning at his home.

He is now before the District Tribunal where he faces four charges relating to allegations he supplied weapons to a civilian militia group to provoke public unrest.

It has been alleged he recruited a hit squad of 30 men on the orders of Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri to intimidate, or even eliminate, his political rivals.

The charges laid against Mr Lobato are: attempted revolution, conspiracy, association with criminals and distributing weapons to civilians.

The chief prosecutor says there is no evidence yet to implicate Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri, who is in talks with his governing Fretilin Party to discuss a proposal for him to resign.

No confidence: Gusmão

On Tuesday, President Xanana Gusmão told Dr Alkatiri he no longer has confidence in his leadership.
In a letter accompanied by a videotape of an ABC Four Corners programme, President Gusmão offered Dr Alkatiri an ultimatum: resign or be sacked.

The programme outlined allegations that Mr Alkatiri at least knew Mr Lobato had armed a civilian militia to eliminate his political rivals.

Dr Alkatiri has repeatedly denied he was involved.

Houses burnt as Dili tensions flare

There has been another spate of arson attacks in East Timor's capital, Dili, as pressure mounts to remove Dr Alkatiri.

Homes and buildings were set ablaze on Wednesday night and at least six buildings were destroyed in fires that authorities say appeared to be deliberately lit.

A 2,500-strong international peacekeeping force comprising Australian, Malaysian, New Zealand and Portuguese troops and police, is in Dili.



Australia - Peackeeper or Petroleum Predator?
Analysis by Kalinga Seneviratne

SYDNEY, Jun 22 (IPS) - A two month old rebellion by sacked army officials and police deserters in East Timor, one of the world's newest and poorest countries, has resulted in an Australian-led "peacekeeping" force arrival in its capital Dili, and a media-supported push for ‘regime change'.

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, a Muslim leading a predominantly Catholic country, is the leader of the Fretilin Party which fought for independence from Indonesia for over two decades, and which won a landslide victory in the first legislative elections in 2001.

In Australian media reports, which in turn influence regional and international reporting of the issue, the crisis in East Timor is painted as an internal power struggle where an "unpopular" Prime Minister is opposed by a peoples' movement. The words "oil" and "gas" are hardly mentioned in these reports, even though this is at the heart of the Australian intervention.

The history of East Timor independence is also the history of Australian policy flip-flops and attempts to lay hands on the vast oil deposits in the surrounding seas, now valued at over 30 billion US dollars. Yet, Australia has always painted its support for East Timorese independence as a "human rights" or "humanitarian" mission. Even today the media reporting here reflects that.

Speaking on ABC Radio recently, James Dunn an advisor to the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNMET) in 1999, described Alkatiri as a "politician who had close relations with the people" and added that he is also an efficient worker and a good bureaucrat, but not an "easy person to deal with".

It is his tough stance negotiating East Timor's rights to its oil and gas reserves with Australia over the past 5 years which has earned him the wrath of the Australian government -- which has tried to bully its poor neighbour into submitting to Canberra's ambitions to control exploration and exploitation of these natural resources.

Rob Wesley-Smith, spokesman for a Free East Timor believes that Alkatiri has dictatorial tendencies and Fretilin has become corrupted, but, he blames the government of Australian Prime Minister John Howard for precipitating the crisis by "abrogating since 1999 all the disputed oil revenue of around 1.5 billion dollars to Australia".

"Despite this area being disputed, almost certainly under UNCLOS (UN Commission for the Law of the Sea) rules, it belongs to East Timor" he told IPS, adding that television images of Australian troops who arrived in Dili where they stood by watching as looting and burning went on made him wonder, if it was a part of a sinister plot by Canberra to declare East Timor a failed state "so that they could control the Timor Sea (oil) theft".

Wesley-Smith pointed out that while Australia took almost 1.5 billion dollars in royalties from the disputed oil fields in the Timor seas since 1999, they have given back approximately 300 million dollars in aid over the same period, thus making it dependent.

Australian academic Helen Hill, author of ‘Stirring of Nationalism in East Timor", argued in a recent newspaper article that the reason Alkatiri is hated by the Canberra establishment is because, while being the only East Timorese leader standing up to Australian government bullying tactics, he has also been building links with Asian countries like China and Malaysia, Cuba, Brazil and former colonial power Portugal to help diversify East Timor's economic ties.

"He is an economic nationalist," notes Hill. "He hopes a state-owned petroleum company assisted by China, Malaysia and Brazil will enable Timor to benefit from its own oil and gas, in addition to revenue it will raise from the areas shared with Australia"..

Alkatiri has also spoken out against privatisation of electricity and managed to set up a "single desk" pharmaceutical store, despite opposition from the World Bank. He has also refused to take conditional aid from the World Bank and the IMF, invited Cuban doctors to serve in rural health centres and help in setting up a new medical school, abolished primary school fees and introduced free mid-day meals for children. All these, and the fact that he was educated and spent 24 years in exile in Marxist Mozambique have been cited by opponents in Australia as hallmarks of a communist leader.

In contrast, the rebel leader Major Alfredo Reinado, a former exile in Australia is believed to have been trained at the national defence academy in Canberra, and Australia's preferred candidate for the prime ministership foreign minister Ramos Horta set up the diplomatic training programme in Sydney during his years of exile in Australia.

Speaking on ABC-TV this week, Horta argued that East Timor cannot "afford this increasing loss of credibility of the government and poor image of the country", thus Alkatiri should step aside in the interests of his own party. Dismissing allegations made in the same programme that he has armed Fretilin members to eliminate his opponents, Alkatiri said he is under no pressure to resign and he will not do so.

The current campaign against Alkatiri reeks of policy flip-flops of successive Australian governments on East Timor since 1975 attributed to its desire to control the Timor Gap oil and gas resources.

After supporting the Indonesian annexation of 1975, in 1989 Australia and Indonesia signed the Timor Gap Treaty (TGT) to share the resources in the area. The UN Transitional Authority in East Timor declared the TGT illegal and in 2001, Australia signed a MOU with the UN authority to allow continued oil exploration in the region.

But, just before East Timor became full a independent state in 2002, the Howard government announced that it would no longer submit to maritime border rulings by the World Court an act which Alkatiri described at the time as "unfriendly" and "tying the hands" of the incoming government.

Since then, Alkatiri has had a series of heated arguments with Australia's foreign minister Alexander Downer over the issue. After bitter negotiations, in January Alkatiri was able to get Canberra to agree to a 90-10 share in East Timor's favour, of the proceeds from the Greater Sunrise field. That was after agreeing not to proceed for at least 40 years with East Timor's claim to the disputed sea under the UNCLOS convention, by which time most of the oil and gas in the area would be exhausted.

In 2005, the Alkatiri government was reported to have entered into negotiations with Petro China to build oil refining facitilies in East Timor, which would undermine Australian plans to build a refinery in the northern Australian city of Darwin to process all Timor Sea oil from both sides of the border. East Timor president Xanana Gusmao was to visit China this month to cement the deal, but this has been blocked by the Australian military.

Sydney University political scientist Tim Anderson believes that the Howard government plans to impose a "junta' on East Timor led by Horta and an ailing Gusmao, which would also include Catholic bishop nominees. "Presence of occupying (Australian) troops till next year's election might seriously undermine Fretilin's dominant position" he notes. (END/2006)


Associated Press WorldStream via NewsEdge Corporation :

DILI, East Timor_A protest leader said Wednesday that the arrest warrant issued
for a former interior minister accused of supplying weapons to a hit squad could
help ease tensions in East Timor.

The country's top prosecutor on Tuesday issued the arrest warrant for former
Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato, who resigned on June 1 under pressure over
violent unrest that has terrorized the capital.

The indictment accuses Lobato of giving guns to rebel leader Vincente "Railos"
da Concecao on at least three occasions in May, according to a U.N. statement.
Concecao is the the self-proclaimed chief of a hit squad allegedly commissioned
by Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri to silence his opponents.

Security forces on Wednesday blocked off the street leading to the house where
Lobato has been detained, witnesses said.

On Tuesday, more than 300 protesters gathered in front of government
headquarters to demand Alkatiri's ouster. Many East Timorese say that Alkatiri's
decision to fire 600 disgruntled soldiers in March was to blame for the
subsequent clashes and gang warfare that has left at least 30 people dead.

Protest leader Augusto Junior Tridade vowed on Wednesday to keep up the protest
until Alkatiri steps down.

"What the justice system is doing to capture Lobato is good news," Tridade said
at the protest site on the downtown waterfront.

"It eases the tensions that action is being taken against those responsible for
the violence, but we still say Alkatiri must go now," he added.

More protesters were expected to come from outside the capital to join the rally
on Wednesday, Tridade said.

The U.N. Security Council extended the mandate of the U.N. office in East Timor
for two months on Tuesday and urged all parties in the beleaguered nation to
refrain from violence and take part in the democratic process.

A resolution adopted unanimously by the council expressed deep concern at "the
volatile security situation" in East Timor and the serious humanitarian

After Alkatiri fired 600 of the country's 1,400 soldiers in March, some of the
dismissed troops clashed with rival groups in the security forces, and in on
incident soldiers gunned down 10 unarmed police officers.

The fighting gave way last month to widespread street violence, and almost
150,000 others fled their homes. The fighting has ebbed since an Australian-led
peacekeeping force arrived in the country but most of those who fled remain in
camps, scared to return to their houses.


Agence France-Presse English Wire Date: June 22, 2006

by Jason Gutierrez

DILI, June 22, 2006 (AFP) - East Timor Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, blamed by opponents for violence that gripped the tiny nation last month, huddled with senior members of his party as his fate hung in the balance Thursday.

President Xanana Gusmao has told Alkatiri to step down or be sacked after seeing a documentary that purported to show evidence of the prime minister's involvement in arming men tasked with killing his rivals.
The premier has repeatedly denied the allegations.

"There was a meeting today and we agreed that if Prime Minister Alkatiri steps down, the cabinet should also be revamped," Martino Perreira, a member of the central committee of Alkatiri's ruling Fretilin party, told AFP.
"If Alkatiri steps down, the president can either name or appoint a replacement or (the central committee) can choose" and it can be approved by the president, he said.

Pereirra said the party would not support foreign and defence minister Jose Ramos-Horta if he was named by Gusmao to lead a transitional government because "only a member of Fretilin's central committee can replace the PM."

The Nobel peace prize winner's name has been floated as a potential successor to Alkatiri, who was expected to meet the president later Thursday.

Alkatiri has been under pressure to quit since the impoverished country descended into violence a month ago, leading to the deaths of 21 people and the arrival of more than 2,200 foreign peacekeepers to restore calm.

His opponents and critics have charged that he failed to prevent the unrest and was also linked to the violence himself.

Gusmao wrote to Alkatiri on Tuesday demanding his resignation, saying he had lost confidence in him. The president said the documentary he saw made "serious accusations" that had shocked him.

"There is nothing left for me to do except give you the choice: either you resign, or, after hearing the State Council, I will fire you, because you no longer deserve my confidence," Gusmao said.

Alkatiri's sacked interior minister Rogerio Lobato, who stands accused of distributing the weapons at his premier's request, was questioned Thursday after a warrant was issued for his arrest earlier in the week.

Dili's prosecutor-general Longuinhos Monteiro said Lobato was being charged with "distributing state weapons to civilians, attempted revolution, conspiracy, and action with criminals".

He faces up to 15 years' imprisonment.

But Monteiro said it was "too early" to know whether Alkatiri would also be charged. "I don't see it now," he told reporters.

UN officials are working with the prosecutor-general on a probe into the violence, which came after Alkatiri in March sacked some 600 soldiers who had complained of discrimination, triggering infighting among the security forces that spiralled into gang warfare.

Security remained tight around the capital, where Australian, New Zealand, Malaysian and Portuguese peacekeepers have taken over police functions.

Tanks patrolled the outskirts of Dili, while troops checked vehicles for any weapons that could be used to stir up trouble.

World Bank chief Paul Wolfowitz said separately Thursday in a statement that East Timor faced a tough task recovering after the unrest and weeks of uncertainty.

"Now is a time to put aside partisan political interests -- a time for Timor-Leste's leaders at the national and community level to work together to heal society's divisions.


DILI, East Timor_East Timor's prime minister was facing an ultimatum from the president to either resign or be fired Thursday, following weeks of bloody street battles that brought the country to the brink of civil war.
One of Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri's close allies, meanwhile, was escorted by foreign troops to court where he was charged with arming civilians allegedly tasked with silencing the opposition.

"I think he is prepared to go," said Estanislan da Silva, a member of Alkatiri's ruling Fretilin party, which held an emergency meeting Thursday attended by the beleaguered prime minister.

Many East Timorese say Alkatiri's decision to fire 600 disgruntled soldiers in March was to blame for subsequent clashes and gang warfare that have left at least 30 people dead and sent nearly 150,000 people fleeing from their homes.

The violence has been the worst to hit the tiny Asian nation since it voted for independence from Indonesia seven years ago, sparking deadly rampages by revenge-seeking militias.

President Xanana Gusmão _ who told Alkatiri in a letter that he had lost his
trust and wanted him to resign _ postponed a planned meeting with the prime minister until Friday, said Fretilin spokesman Jose Reis.

He indicated that the ruling party, which holds 55 of 88 seats in parliament, may try to
block mounting efforts to push aside the prime minister.

"Alkatiri will only step down based on the constitution," Reis said after the emergency talks, though he did not elaborate.

Fierce gun battles between rival security forces in the capital last month raised fears that the country was plunging into a civil war, but the arrival of a 2,700-strong Australian-led peacekeeping mission several weeks ago helped ease tensions.

Still, there have been several flare-ups, with arsonists setting fire to five houses and an administrative office in Dili on Wednesday.

Former Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato, meanwhile, was issued an arrest warrant this week after being accused of providing weapons to Vincente "Railos" da Conceição _ the self-proclaimed leader of a hit squad allegedly commissioned by Alkatiri.

He was escorted by Australian troops to a court Thursday where he was formally charged with "attempted revolution, conspiracy, providing state weapons to civilians, and association with criminals," said Prosecutor-General Longuinhos Monteiro.

"Lobato turned himself in this morning," he said, adding that he faced 15 years imprisonment if convicted.
Alkatiri has denied involvement in the alleged hit squad, but the Australian current affairs program Four Corners reported Monday that a police official told him in a letter that civilian militias had been armed with government weapons.

That added to pressure on the prime minister.

"No political leader can resist having to step down under such enormous political pressure and after being exposed as a liar," said Mark Aarons, the author of "East Timor: A Western Made Tragedy" who has written about the country since the 1970s.

"It is clear that for months he has been isolated and hasn't been governing the country and has no popular support."

LUSA Dili- Fretiln announcd today that the Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri will not resign.

"The Prime Minister will not present his resignation to the President of the Republic and appeals to the sovereign organs of state to resolve the problem constitutionally," said José Reis, General secretary of the party during a press conference.

'Either you go or I'm out' - President Gusmão warns PM Alkatiri

Lusa, 21 June 2006- East Timorese President Xanana Gusmão reaffirmed a demand that Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri resign Wednesday during a meeting of the Council of State and the government chief agreed to reply to the ultimatum after consulting his ruling FRETILIN party leadership, according to a council member.

The Council of State member, who asked to remain unidentified, told Lusa Alkatiri responded to Gusmão's ultimatum to step down or be dismissed by saying he would only take a decision after hearing FRETILIN's leadership.

A government source told Lusa Alkatiri was expected to give his reply to the president Thursday.

Gusmão first issued his demand for Alkatiri to resign Tuesday in a letter to the prime minister, a copy of which was seen by Lusa Wednesday.

"Either resign or, after hearing the Council of State, I will dismiss you because you no longer merit my confidence", the president said in his letter.

Gusmão said his decision followed his viewing of an Australian ABC television documentary that implicated the prime minister in the distribution of weapons to groups of civilians during East Timor's recent wave of violence that led to the deployment of international peacekeeping forces.

"I await your response by 17:00 hours today, June 20, 2006", the president said in his letter to Alkatiri, adding that he was "immensely shocked" by the television documentary's "grave denunciations" against the prime minister.

The council member said Alkatiri, who has repeatedly denied the arms allegations, only agreed to contemplate resigning after Gusmão threatened he would step down as head of state if the prime minister did not move aside.

Alkatiri, the councilman said, reacted to Gusmão's threat, saying the president's role was "more important" for a solution to the country's crisis and agreeing to consult his party leadership.

Estanislau da Silva, the minister of agriculture and a member of FRETILIN's senior political commission, told Lusa the party, which has 55 lawmakers in the 88-seat parliament, would present an unspecified "compromise solution" to the president.

A compromise formula, da Silva added, should "respect the democratically elected institutions" and consider the fact that regularly scheduled elections are expected within eight months.

He said mounting accusations from various factions that Alkatiri was to blame for the violence and should resign did not represent majority opinion in the country and that FRETILIN had only not mobilized "tens of thousands" of supporters in Dili to avoid worsening the crisis.

In an interview with Lusa Tuesday, the prime minister vehemently denied any involvement in the alleged arming of civilian gangs, including a self-styled government "death squad", saying the charges aimed to "demonize" him and topple his government.

Alkatiri said, however, that, if asked, he would "collaborate" with an investigation opened the same day by Timorese Attorney General Longuinhos Monteiro into the alleged involvement of former Interior Minister Rogério Lobato in organizing a purported hit-team to eliminate dissident security forces and political opponents.

Monteiro told Lusa Wednesday that "no investigation has been opened yet" involving the prime minister and that Lobato had yet to be questioned by the Attorney General's office.

Lobato, he said, was at his Dili residence under guard by Australian peacekeepers but that the former interior minister was not under house arrest.

The Attorney General's office Tuesday issued a precautionary detention order against Lobato to be executed in the event he tried to leave the country.

Australian media reported Lobato's passport was confiscated Monday when he attempted to board a flight to Australia.

The former interior minister was elected as FRETILIN vice- president days after resigning his government post June 1, as demanded by Gusmão in an attempt to quell spiraling violence in Dili.

The crisis and violence erupted in April when troops were ordered into Dili to crackdown on hundreds of sacked soldiers protesting alleged regional discrimination in the army.

The deadly confrontations led to subsequent clashed between rival police and army factions and communal gang violence in the capital that only subsided with the arrival of international peacekeepers in late May.

According to UN officials, at least 37 people have been killed and more than 130,000 displaced from their homes.





Health workers rise to challenge of social crisis in Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste's Community Health Centres and local health posts remained fully operational from April 29 when the first internally displaced people appeared in the capital Dili, until today when over 148,000 people rely on health workers organized through the Ministry of Health. In Dili with 69,000 people in 57 IDP centres, the Dili District Health Service at first provided mobile health clinics, then set up 24 hour health posts in 19 centres, each with doctors and nurses.

Health Ministry staff continued to work despite many of them also having to live in IDP centres because of threats to their homes. Since June 17, the case load at the IDP centres has declined and the service is now reverting to mobile clinics, with 24-hour posts continuing for the two largest IDP centres.

The health sector is one of Timor-Leste's many success stories, because it has succeeded in providing a basic level of service to all the people of the country, even in remote locations, and it is improving the quality and availability of these services. In the public sector, these midwives, nurses, GP and hospital visits, medicines and educational programs are free - a primary reason why all people in this very poor country can use them.

Rui Maria de Araújo, a Timorese doctor who trained in Bali and then worked as a support surgeon at Dili Hospital, was head of the Health Department under the UN administration up to May 20, 2002, and then the Health Minister in the first independent government. He says that success has been about being able to spend the available money effectively. “The issue has not been money, but having good health policies and good methods of implementation so that we achieve our targets,” he said.

Under the first National Health Policy Framework developed under UNTAET, the health sector has a focus on primary health care to help cure the most common diseases, to prevent illness and to provide community education. “We deliver our services through programs aimed at mothers and children, tuberculosis, malaria and HIV / Aids. The point of contact for people is a Community Health Centre in each Sub-District, or a Health Post in population centres isolated from the Community Health Centre,” said Minister Araújo.

Each of the 65 Community Health Centres has 6 – 10 nurses or midwives, and 1 – 2 general practice doctors. Each of the 175 Health Posts has one nurse and / or one midwife.

The Health Ministry and its 13 District Health Management Teams is fully managed by Timorese, and employs 1,700 people. However, there are only 55 trained Timorese doctors and under a formal aid program the Cuban government provides 220 Cuban doctors and 30 Cuban health technicians. Several of the Cuban doctors are teachers at the National Institute of Health.

Training doctors, nurses and technicians at the National Institute of Health is a major priority to ensure that availability and quality of health services continues to improve. A one-year Nursing Diploma course is now provided in exchange for a three-year contract to work in a remote Health Post. “With our expanded budget next year, we will really improve facilities, equipment and communications at our Community Health Centres and Health Posts, and thus retain our staff and really improve our services,” concluded Minister Araújo.

Díli, June 22, 2006

For further information please contact the Media Advisor:
Miguel Sarmento/Rui Flores — +670 723 01 40 ou or,
Peter Murphy — + 61 418 312 301
Efrem dos Anjos — + 670 728 2076

These Items Do Not Reflect the Position or Views of the United Nations. UNOTIL Public Information Office
Created by anita
Last modified 2006-06-26 02:44 AM

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