Churches in West Timor have started relief work
for some of the displaced people in Kupang and Atambua, cities on the
border of East Timor.  The escalation of violence and terror after the
Aug. 30 independence referendum in East Timor has forced people to flee
their homes.

     "About 200,000 people have fled to West Timor since Sept. 4, and
another 190,000 people are believed to be displaced within East Timor,"
said Belletech Deressa, director for international development and
disaster response, Division for Global Mission of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

     Action by Churches Together (ACT) has started building shelters
for refugee families, said Deressa.  ACT, a worldwide network of
churches and related agencies that meet human need through coordinated
emergency response, is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC)
and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Geneva, Switzerland.  The
ELCA is a member of ACT, LWF and WCC.

  On behalf of its member churches, ACT has provided $50,000 as an
initial response toward relief work, Deressa said.  ELCA International
Disaster Response has sent $50,000 to support ACT's efforts.
  Relief workers in Kupang and Atambua are trying to reach displaced
people with food, shelter and basic health care.  Doctors and health
care workers are being hired by churches in West Timor.  Since
pro-Indonesia militia groups control access to camps housing displaced
people, the delivery of basic humanitarian relief is difficult, reported
the Rev. Y. Franklin Ishida, director for international communication,
ELCA Division for Global Mission.

  Militia groups responsible for the violence in East Timor have
moved to West Timor and a climate of fear has developed, said Ishida.
Militia remain active in Kupang's five main camps.  Reports have
surfaced of independence supporters being identified and taken away by
the militia.  Militia groups carrying firearms are visible around

  In 1975 Indonesia invaded East Timor as Portuguese rule collapsed
there.  Indonesia annexed it in 1976, despite international
condemnation.  Ever since, the Indonesian army has been accused of
human-rights abuses in attempt to suppress independence supporters,
Ishida said.  The violence in East Timor has largely been created by
pro-Indonesia militia groups reacting to the referendum when 78.5
percent of the population voted in favor of independence from Indonesia,
he said.


Editors:  When listing organizations receiving funds for aid
to survivors of major disasters outside the United States,
Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, please include:

Lutheran World Relief  -  PO Box 17061
Baltimore, MD 21298-9832  -  1-800-LWR-LWR2

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or NEWS@ELCA.ORG

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