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More people than expected need food aid in Timor Leste

Tens of thousands of people displaced by the recent unrest in Timor Leste, both in the countryside as well as thousands who stayed at home in the capital, Dili, are in urgent need of food aid, according to assessments by WFP and its partners.

The recent unrest has placed an added burden on a country already suffering from widespread nutritional deficiencies
Tarek Elguindi, WFP Representative in Timor Leste
“Recent events have shaken the food security of the entire country,” said Tarek Elguindi, WFP Representative in Timor Leste.

“WFP is moving as quickly as possible to reach all people who are in need.”

WFP is already providing fortified blended food, oil and sugar to 60,000 displaced people living in sites in and around Dili.

The food aid is distributed together with government rice rations.

In total, WFP has provided assistance to over 82,000 people in Timor Leste since the civil unrest began in late April.

Wider operation

The agency is now expanding operations beyond the capital to reach the estimated 78,000 people outside Dili who have fled their homes.

In the coming days, food will be distributed to over 30,000 people in Ermera, Manatutu and Baucau districts.

The distributions are being conducted in cooperation with the government, World Vision and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Security assessment

A recent WFP food security assessment also determined a need for food aid among families who remained in their homes in Dili during the recent violence.

While the urban displaced are receiving aid, much of the rest of the population lacks sources of food, as markets and transport networks have been slow to re-open.

In response, WFP will start providing supplementary food to 15,000 children under five and pregnant and lactating women, in cooperation with the government, UNICEF and NGOs.

Insecurity

The assessment also found that at a time when many farmers in the countryside are harvesting their vegetable crops, continuing insecurity means they are unable to transport their produce to markets in Dili and elsewhere.

Anticipated lean season

“We expect the lean season will come earlier in Timor Leste this year,” said Elguindi.

“The recent unrest has placed an added burden on a country already suffering from widespread nutritional deficiencies. WFP calls on its donors and partners to help quickly, to prevent any further suffering.”