/** reg.easttimor: 3230.0 **/

** Topic: Aid agency finds few signs of life outside Dili -"like Cambodia in **
** Written 10:30 PM Sep 24, 1999 by Joyo@aol.com in cdp:reg.easttimor **
Subject: Aid agency finds few signs of life outside Dili -"like Cambodia in '75"

Australian Broadcasting Corporation AM News Saturday, September 25, 1999 8:04

Aid agency finds few signs of life outside Dili

COMPERE: Well, if conditions in the East Timorese capital Dili are still extremely difficult, what about the rest of East Timor? Sajwal Sanjay of the aid agency World Vision has just made the first trip to the territory's hinterland since the arrival of the multinational force. He joins me now live from Dili. Sajwal Sanjay, what did you see on that trip?

SAJWAL SANJAY: What I saw on that trip I was totally unprepared for. I flew from Dili right up to the easternmost part of the country, and village after village and town after town I saw have been completed plundered and ruined. There are only foundations of buildings left in the towns and the cities. Los Poulos, which is one of the [inaudible] city here, has also been completed razed to the ground.

COMPERE: So there were no signs of life anywhere in areas that previously had been inhabited?

SAJWAL SANJAY: Absolutely no signs. There were - basically I saw only about three people in every major town and city the helicopter came down on and you - I was looking for people to find them. There was not a single motorcycle or car on any of these roads - on the road.

COMPERE: This sounds almost like year zero in Cambodia in 1975.

SAJWAL SANJAY: Yes. It is completely cleaned out. And I was also looking for traces of people hiding in the hills, but there were no signs of it. They must be really in very remote jungle quite far from the cities where they lived.

COMPERE: Well, the population of East Timor was once around 800,000. We know 200,000 of those are now in West Timor. What's happened to the other half million?

SAJWAL SANJAY: This is what is difficult to understand. We even got down in Atalari and I saw only about a thousand people. The commander of the Falintil in that area told me that there were between 20 and 30,000 people who have sought protection under his command. But most of the people are hiding in remote areas.

COMPERE: Presumably their condition must be extremely precarious.

SAJWAL SANJAY: Well, as you can imagine - a family flees from a town, they can only carry - there's only one adult, usually the man, who will carry about - between 20 to 30 kilos, at the most, of food. That that should have run out by now because they've been in hiding almost for two weeks. And really one wonders what are their conditions now at this point of time.

COMPERE: So, what does this say about the future of the INTERFET mission? Does this mean that really INTERFET should be in East Timor for much longer than was originally envisaged?

SAJWAL SANJAY: The destruction is so widespread - I have, after my flight yesterday, begun to appreciate the role that the UN has to play - the enormity of the task, and they are, you know, in the process of actually taking control of Dili right now. But these areas - they will probably take a few months before they can arrive in these areas that I have been to yesterday.

COMPERE: Sajwal Sanjay, thank you very much for joining us this morning.

** End of text from cdp:reg.easttimor **