The United Nations has issued an urgent appeal for nearly $19 million for victims of civil unrest in East Timor
U.N. emergency aid chief Jan Egeland launched the flash appeal Monday to help more than 130,000 East Timorese displaced by recent violence. Egeland says food, sanitation, water and health facilities are reaching victims, but that there are many more displaced than originally believed.
"We have new information of many more internally displaced outside of the capital than we previously thought," said Jan Egeland. "Some 63,000, it could be higher. These are people who fled from the capital, Dili, but there are also reports of people fleeing within the various areas outside of the capital."
Egeland says the $18.9-million aid package will cover the next three months of emergency operations.
He told a news conference the East Timor crisis holds many lessons for the international assistance community.
"The problem is, we are not good enough in averting these crises from taking place, and certainly the East Timorese have to have huge lessons learned from this, and also in the international community," he said. "Yes, could it have been averted, could we have avoided 130,000 people being displaced."
East Timor won independence four years ago after centuries of Portuguese rule, nearly a quarter of a century of occupation by Indonesia, and more than two years of U.N. administration. But violence broke out last month when 600 soldiers were fired after complaining of discrimination in the ranks.
The Security Council will receive a briefing on East Timor Tuesday from Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special envoy Ian Martin. Martin has just returned from a nine-day fact-finding mission to the region.
The Council is considering whether to re-establish a peacekeeping presence in the country. The previous mission was closed last year after officials determined the area was sufficiently stable.