IRC Programs in East Timor Close
The International Rescue Committee concluded its humanitarian assistance programs in East Timor and closed its offices Sept. 15. During the four years that IRC operated in East Timor, our dedicated East Timorese staff implemented numerous critical assistance programs reaching tens of thousands of Timorese. During the past year, programs focused on overcoming gender-based violence.
"The IRC is gratified that Timor Leste is no longer experiencing emergency conditions, and in this situation IRC needs to redirect our resources to countries with more urgent needs," said country director Belinda King. "We are, however, parting with sadness, particularly from those colleagues we have worked together with in partnership and the many dedicated staff within the IRC."
The 1999 East Timorese vote for independence from Indonesia triggered a brutal outbreak of violence by pro-Indonesian militias. In 21 days nearly the entire population was displaced, and 90 percent of homes, public buildings and infrastructure systematically destroyed. The IRC arrived as the political crisis was mounting, and began distributing food and non-food supplies, and providing medical care and emergency shelter assistance.
After United Nations peacekeeping forces quelled the violence, East Timor experienced its first free and fair election in 2001, and became an independent nation on May 20, 2002. IRC's emergency programs phased into home and school infrastructure reconstruction, family reunification, education, income-generation, gender based violence prevention, and youth recreational and vocational centers.
The IRC worked with local partners on sustainable projects that benefit the community and promote self-reliance. A summary of program accomplishments follows:
Program for Victims of Gender-based Violence: The IRC worked with 13 community groups in five districts to support women and girls who were victims of gender-based violence, counseling approximately 2,500 victims, and conducting community-wide awareness campaigns. The IRC also conducted a nationwide research study on the prevalence of gender based violence.
Child Tracing and Family Reunification: IRC identified separated children and reunified over 1,100 children with their families. IRC is in the process of handing over the tracing responsibilities to local partners on both sides of the border.
Water and Sanitation: The IRC rehabilitated water and sanitation services at 85 primary schools serving 22,500 children, ensuring a safe water supply and adequate latrines and waste disposal. The IRC also provided health education training to teachers, who now include health and hygiene as part of their curriculum.
Youth Centers: The IRC ran youth centers in Suai, Maliana, and Oecussi, which provided language and computer classes and recreational activities.
Donors: Individual donors who support the IRC, as well as the following government and international agencies: ECHO, ADB, UNICEF, ECHO, BPRM, UNFPA, Canada Fund, USAID, UNHCR, NETAID, Irish Aid, Portuguese Government, Banyan Tree, CYDP, BPRM, WHO, OFDA, AUSAID, Global FUND.
International Partners: Concern, Oxfam, CARE, ACF, ASF, UNICEF, World Vision, Save the Children and the Christian Children's Fund.