Tuesday, May 30, 2006

East Timor humanitarian crisis long in the making

The gang-led violence in East Timor has become a humanitarian nightmare.

From News.com Australia:

East Timor is suffering a humanitarian disaster, the Australian-born wife of President Xanana Gusmao said today.

Kirsty Sword-Gusmao said 50,000 hungry people were still displaced by violence in the capital Dili.

"Less than 48 hours ago there were 1000 people sheltering at the airport and eating grass for lack of any other food," she said to Channel 7.

Troops from Australia, New Zealand, and Malaysia are attempting to restore order. It won't be an east task. The problems in East Timor go back centuries. It's colonial master was Portugal, and almost as a rule, former Portuguese colonies become failed-nations.

A few days after becoming independent from Portugal, Indonesia invaded and annexed East Timor. After over a quarter-century of brutal Indonesian-rule, independence from Indonesia was obtained a few years after a UN-sponsored referendum. But international support of East Timor may be at the heart of the current troubles there.

From the New York Times:

More than half the foreign assistance was spent on salaries and consultant fees of the foreign advisers, according to the East Timorese government.

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