From East Timor

From East Timor Dili. In recent days our attention is on the people of East Timor, who are again the victims of violence. We read in Misna (a Missionary News Agency) that in the capital, Dili, there are armed clashes between soldiers and ex-soldiers who were expelled a month ago for desertion from the Timorese Army (FDTL). There have already been about ten victims, but these numbers may not be reliable. Many people have left their homes for fear of becoming involved and have asked for hospitality with religious, among them the SDB and FMA. As the Timorese Foreign Minister José Ramos-Horta explained on New Zealand radio: “Tens of thousands of people who have fled their homes are still staying in lodgings inside or outside the city. The fear of renewed violence is palpable among these people”.
Meanwhile the UN security Council has launched an appeal “To all those involved, to end violence and participate in the democratic process, respecting human rights and abstaining from all acts of intimidation”, as was reported by the representative for Congo Brazzaville, Basile Ikouebe who is president of the organisation for this month.
The situation is therefore still in the balance, though the capital seems the main area involved.
In Timor there are 8 FMA communities, 3 in the capital Dili, which has already witnessed other crisis moments when the country was fighting for its independence.
Among the Sisters working in Timor is Sr. Alma Castagna, from Lecco. She has a degree in medicine and has been in Timor since 1992. She received the award of Ufficiale dell’Ordine from the President of the Italian Republic, on the occasion of Women’s Day. This award is reserved to women who offer “selfless service to culture, science or society”. Sr. Alma now lives in Venilale, and works as a doctor, and not only that, in an orphanage with over a hundred children, in the house of welcome for mothers and children, in the professional school and in the noviciate. We believe that this is a recognition for all the FMA who have worked in this land, remaining close to the people especially the poor and defenceless.

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