terça-feira, junho 13, 2006

Afinal não estávamos assim tão mal...

Source: Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
Date: 12 Jun 2006

Turmoil in East Timor: A school and a country come to grips with setbackby
G. Jefferson Price

DILI, East Timor — In a way, the unhappy situation on the grounds of the Don Bosco School here represents the dramatic setback dealt to this fledgling nation of just over a million people. For the last two months, this city has been torn apart by violence.

Until two months ago, 150 students attended the school, training for trades that would help them and their tiny, new country.

Today, the school, which is run by Catholic Salesian Brothers, is closed. And its headmaster, Brother Adriano de Jesus, is hosting more than 13,000 of the 100,000 people who are fleeing political upheaval and violence that is occurring mostly in this capital city, where there have been 20 deaths and vast property damage from looting and arson.

Today, this 15-acre compound is full of people living in makeshift shelters inside buildings and outside on playing fields. They need water, food and medical assistance, not to mention such things as schools and creative programs to occupy their children in the scorching heat. With the passage of every day, the danger of health and sanitation problems increases exponentially.

A Step Backwards

The step backwards for East Timor is exacerbated by the fact that local and international aid agencies have had to suspend much of their development work so they can attend to the emergency. In this country, 40 percent of the population lives on less than 55 cents a day, and East Timor also has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the region. If you consider the poverty and unemployment levels in East Timor, those development programs were already a sort of disaster work.

"East Timor was moving in a positive direction and had made significant progress between 1999 and 2006," says Jessica Pearl, who runs operations in East Timor for Catholic Relief Services, the relief and humanitarian agency of the U. S. Catholic community.

"People were becoming less dependent on aid and subsidies and beginning to stand on their own two feet," Jessica explains. "The events of the last two months are not a complete loss of what has been achieved so far, but they have been a setback for the country."

Now, Jessica's staff of 30, supplemented by half a dozen more from CRS headquarters in Baltimore and elsewhere, are focused on the overwhelming emergency caused by huge numbers who have fled their homes.

CRS and Caritas in Australia are working together to manage resources provided to encampments of displaced people by government and private aid agencies. More than half of Dili’s population has fled their homes, many of which were burned to the ground in the wave of anarchy.

The president of East Timor and his Australian-born wife, the military commanders of the international forces that landed here several weeks ago, the international media, the leaders of relief agencies bringing assistance to his charges, and at least one politician from Australia have been among the outsiders looking in on the sprawl of fear and need that's overtaken the Don Bosco campus.

A Fragile State

It's actually astonishing that a country this small and remote should attract so much attention. But East Timor, after centuries as a Portuguese colony, plus decades under Indonesian occupation, only won full independence in 1999. The country wasn't formally recognized until 2002. The liberation of East Timor attracted international attention.

But the new democracy was fragile, with practically no social or political infrastructure in place. Ethnic rivalries persisted.

The turmoil of the last two months was generated by a crisis in which soldiers in the country's small army claimed they were being discriminated against. They eventually left their posts and were fired, leaving the country with less than half of its security force. Then, the same ethnic rivalries that caused problems within the army spread to the population. Now an international force of some 2,300 soldiers led by Australia patrols the streets, trying to restore security.

Brother Adriano looks out over the thousands occupying his school grounds, with all the facilities that aid agencies have brought in, and says his visitors still are too frightened to return home. And some do not even have homes to reclaim.

"Here we have been teaching trades to young men for the future, and all that has stopped," Brother Adriano said, "This was the important work. I don't think these people will go home for another two months," he predicts.

Two months is a long time for a state that was just getting started.

Veteran foreign correspondent G. Jefferson Price III has traveled the world for CRS, reporting from such hotspots as Niger, Pakistan, Colombia and Sudan.


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Todas as traduções de inglês para português (e também de francês para português) são feitas pela Margarida, que conhecemos recentemente, mas que desde sempre nos ajuda.

Obrigado pela solidariedade, Margarida!

Mensagem inicial - 16 de Maio de 2006

"Apesar de frágil, Timor-Leste é uma jovem democracia em que acreditamos. É o país que escolhemos para viver e trabalhar. Desde dia 28 de Abril muito se tem dito sobre a situação em Timor-Leste. Boatos, rumores, alertas, declarações de países estrangeiros, inocentes ou não, têm servido para transmitir um clima de conflito e insegurança que não corresponde ao que vivemos. Vamos tentar transmitir o que se passa aqui. Não o que ouvimos dizer... "

Malai Azul. Lives in East Timor/Dili, speaks Portuguese and English.
This is my blogchalk: Timor, Timor-Leste, East Timor, Dili, Portuguese, English, Malai Azul, politica, situação, Xanana, Ramos-Horta, Alkatiri, Conflito, Crise, ISF, GNR, UNPOL, UNMIT, ONU, UN.