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Fighting Subsides But Humanitarian Crisis Looms in East Timor


More than a week of violence in the East Timorese capital, Dili, has calmed a day after the president took over the country's security. But now tens of thousands of people displaced by the fighting are desperate for food, water, and medicine.

The streets of Dili - scenes of fierce fighting, arson, and looting by armed rival gangs for more than a week - were calmer Wednesday, although sporadic clashes continued.

Aid organizations are now trying to get food and medicine to the more than 70,000 people displaced - but violence has hindered that effort.

Dozens of aid camps have sprung up across Dili. Brother Adriano, in charge of one housing 13,000 people, says he is nearly out of food and water.

"Definitely within two, three days or one week more it will be really a humanitarian crisis…not only in this camp but also all over Timor," he said.

The president of East Timor assumed emergency powers Tuesday. Several thousand foreign peacekeepers keep working to stop the civil unrest, which was sparked by a violent split in the military over alleged discrimination and poor working conditions.

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