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Last Updated: Monday, 12 June 2006, 09:14 GMT 10:14 UK
UN in aid appeal for East Timor
Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta talks to a refugee at the camp
Mr Ramos Horta says a political solution will take time
The United Nations is to issue an appeal for East Timor, where unrest has caused thousands to flee their homes.

Fien Riske-Nielson, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in East Timor, said the UN was seeking $18m (9.8m) to support aid operations for three months.

Some 100,000 people were estimated to have left their homes and there were signs that number was rising, he said.

Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta warned that a political solution to the violence would take time.

"As far as a political solution (is concerned), that would take a few more days or even weeks before there is an absolute clarity of what direction this country is taking," Mr Ramos Horta said.

The two were touring a refugee camp which is currently home to 14,000 refugees.

'Increasing'

Mr Riske-Nielson said the appeal would be launched later in the day at the UN's New York headquarters. He expected "a positive response to the appeal".

TENSIONS MOUNT
Feb: More than 400 troops strike over pay and conditions
March: Government sacks nearly 600 of 1,400-man army
April: Rioting by sacked troops leaves five people dead
May: Violence intensifies, with battles between gangs from east and west of the country
24 May: Government asks foreign troops to take control

But he expressed concern about the number of people fleeing the violence.

"We are planning to do an assessment again in the coming days because there are indications that the number could be increasing outside Dili," he said.

And he warned that overcrowding in the camps could lead to outbreaks of disease. "The situation in the camps is very difficult," he said.

The UN was due to ship 150 tons of relief supplies to Dili later in the day.

On Sunday, East Timor's government asked the UN to set up an investigation into the violence.

A probe was "critical for Timor-Leste to overcome its present crisis", Mr Ramos Horta said in a statement.

The violence was sparked by the sacking in March of 600 soldiers. Their protests led to gang and ethnic violence, mainly in the capital, Dili, and at least 20 people are known to have died.

A multinational force of some 2,200 troops is in the newly-independent nation to try and control the unrest.




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