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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2001  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2001   
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The East Timorese are among the world's poorest people. Violence following the August 1999 ballot left most of the territory's infrastructure destroyed, the agricultural cycle severely disrupted and nearly three-quarters of the population displaced. With peace restored, East Timor faces great challenges in its move to an independent and peaceful state. A massive international humanitarian relief effort is addressing immediate needs in areas such as food, health and shelter, and has helped the return of many displaced people.

As a close neighbour, Australia is strongly committed to East Timor's reconstruction and long-term development. As the focus moves from relief to reconstruction and development, the challenges facing East Timor remain enormous. Building the capacity of the East Timorese to govern a stable and democratic independent East Timor will underpin the aid program. Bilateral assistance in 2000-01 will complement the UN Transitional Administration (UNTEAT) operations and the programs of other aid donors by focusing on:

    • restoring basic services and improving service delivery in the key sectors of health, education, and water supply/sanitation;
    • helping to develop simple, effective and self-sustaining government and administration in East Timor;
    • strengthening productive sectors of the economy, especially agriculture;
    • assisting the process of reconciliation and peace building; and
    • supporting multinational reconstruction and development efforts, including through continued engagement and coordination with other donors.

Consistent with Australia's capacity to assist and East Timor's development needs, the Australian Government has committed $150m ($100m of which is additional funding) over the next four years towards the reconstruction of East Timor.

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