East Timor Update
Martone , in a telephone call placed from the Australian embassy to colleagues in New York, said that fires continue to burn, and that food and potable water supplies are lacking, as are garbage disposal facilities.
Medical needs are great, particularly for the elderly. There are no physicians left in the country and what paramedics there are need training, Martone said, adding that malaria cases are on the rise. He reported an overwhelming need for shelter to immediately replace burnt-out homes, a need made more crucial by the fact that the rainy season is only two weeks off.
Martone has been in Dili in his role as director of the IRC’s emergency response unit and as a member of a U.N. humanitarian-needs assessment team. He serves on the U.N. team in his capacity as co-chairman of the Disaster Response Committee of InterAction, a coalition of 160 private U.S.-based relief, development and refugee agencies.
Meanwhile, in West Timor, where several hundred thousand East Timorese have taken refuge, the IRC is working with four local nongovernmental organizations to assist refugees and displaced people and has received initial support from the Portuguese and Australian governments. The relief teams are distributing food, water, medicine and hygiene items and installing sanitation facilities.