International Donors Meet in East Timor to Push Development
DILI (AFP, 2 April 2009) — International donors to East Timor kicked off a three-day meeting Thursday to discuss how to lock in security gains and promote development in the young nation, one of the world's poorest.
The meeting includes foreign governments, non-governmental organisations, the United Nations and the World Bank and will focus on maintaining peace and reducing widespread poverty amid the global economic crisis, officials said.
"2009 will be a difficult year in (the) face of the current international financial crisis, and a drop in the price of oil which has sharply reduced Timor-Leste's prospective petroleum revenue," a government briefing paper said.
"The challenge is to consolidate the reforms in the security and defence sectors, improve the efficiency and sustainability of the social safety net programmes in place, and sustain economic growth and poverty reduction in the long term."
The conference started with bilateral meetings between the government, the World Bank, the United Nations and foreign donor nations.
"Today's meetings have been very positive and I have high hopes that the countries that have come will help East Timor come out of conflict and into development," Deputy Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres told AFP.
East Timor gained independence in 2002 after a brutal 24-year occupation by neighbour Indonesia that killed roughly 200,000 people.
A mass desertion by soldiers in 2006 triggered violence among police and military factions and street gangs that killed 37 people and displaced 100,000.
A UN-backed stabilisation force has returned security to the country and many displaced people have gone home, but security forces remain riven with divisions and around half the population lives on less than 88 cents a day.
Copyright © 2009 AFP.