Photo by VALENTINO DARIEL SOUSA/AFP

East Timor fundraiser raises some MOP63,400 for flood victims

The local community raised MOP63,460 (US$7,936) to support the Timorese locality of Laclubar, affected by the floods, an amount that will make a “huge difference”, the East Timor Forum Macao delegate told Lusa.

Through the East Timor Solidarity Account of the Banco Nacional Ultramarino em Macau (BNU), launched by the East Timor delegation at the Macau Forum and by the Macau-Timor Friendship Association, opened from April 28 to May 20, some MOP47,460 was raised and the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries [Macau Forum] donated an additional MOP16,000.

On the sidelines of the Donation ceremony for the Victims of Floods in Timor-Leste, which took place in the former territory administered by Portugal, the East Timor delegate of Forum Macau, Danilo Lemos Henriques explained that after the floods in the country, which occurred in the early April, there was “a lot of difficulty in accessing the district”.

“Three kilometers of road fell and so did the bridge. They did not have the opportunity to buy materials or food ”, and the food that arrived had to be transported by helicopter, said the official.

In total, “111 houses were completely destroyed” and “families were left without clothes, without books, without toys”, among others, he said.

The money raised, he explained, will be coordinated by the Fundação Ordem Hospitalar de São João de Deus and by the local authorities, who “will manage this fund and then buy the basic needs that the populations need”.

At the Laclubar Administrative Post, in the municipality of Manatuto, some 90 kilometers east of the Timorese capital, 111 houses were completely destroyed and more than 230 damaged, for a total of 345 families in six affected villages.

The floods, which left 32 dead and nine missing, presumed dead, destroyed or damaged almost 29,000 houses in various parts of the country, destroying more than 3,700 hectares of agricultural fields, especially in the municipalities of Manatuto, Bobonaro, Liquiçá and Viqueque.

The latest report prepared by the Ministry of State Administration, in coordination with the Civil Protection and Natural Disaster Management Mission Unit, to which Lusa had access, shows that so far less than 15 thousand families have been supported across the country.

More than half of the 33,000 families affected by the floods of early April in Timor-Leste remain one month after the natural disaster, without receiving support, with more than 3,000 people still displaced, according to the latest report.

During the ceremony held in Macau, which was attended by Portuguese-speaking representatives from the Macau Forum and the BNU, representatives of the local communities from the Laclubar Administrative post met live via videoconference.

One of them, Francisco Reis de Araújo, professor of higher education in Dili, “on behalf of the people of Laclubar, mainly of the victimized families”, the financial support they received today “as a result of the contribution of the brother people of Macau, of the Timorese brothers living in Macau , to associations of Portuguese-speaking countries in Macau.

In addition to this humanitarian disaster, Timor-Leste is experiencing the worst moment of the pandemic. Timor-Leste today registered 179 more infections with SARS-CoV-2, 10% of which with covid-19 symptoms, according to the daily balance sheet released by the Integrated Crisis Management Center (CIGC).

Timor-Leste currently accumulates 5,816 cases of Covid-19 infection since the beginning of the pandemic.

On this point, the East Timor delegate to the Forum Macao, stressed the role that China has played in helping the country.

“Since the beginning of the covid-19 outbreak in East Timor, China was the first country to offer assistance and donations”, such as personal hygiene equipment, temperature gauges, he said.

“China continues to be, like other countries as well, one of Timor-Leste’s great partners in this fight against the covid-19,” he said.

China established the Macau SAR as a platform for economic and trade cooperation with Portuguese-speaking countries in 2003, the year in which it created the Macau Forum.

This Forum has a permanent secretariat, meets at ministerial level every three years and includes, in addition to the secretary-general and three deputy secretaries-general, eight delegates from Portuguese-speaking countries, Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea- Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe and Timor-Leste.

The 6th Ministerial Conference, scheduled for 2020, has been postponed indefinitely due to the covid-19 pandemic.