Australians drop food to starving refugees
Saturday 18 September 1999
Packets of rice descended on them from the skies yesterday as international aid agencies made the first airdrops over the stricken province.
Two Australian Hercules C-130 military transport planes carried out the mission from the northern city of Darwin. The aircraft dropped food and blankets over several locations, including the town of Ermera, south of the capital, Dili, where 20,000 people are believed to be sheltering in mountainous jungle. Tens of thousands of East Timorese refugees who fled their homes after anti-independence militias went on a murderous rampage are hiding in secluded regions with little or no access to food and water.
From Monday in certain areas the World Food Programme plans to use for the first time a new method called "snow drop". The system, which has taken six years to develop, permits food to be dropped on to mountainous areas or difficult terrain without injuring people on the ground.
The food packages are composed of high-energy biscuits, which are grouped in such a way that they form "wings". The wings mean that the 7oz packets float down slowly and hit the ground gently. The traditional method is to drop packages of cereal weighing about 110lb each. To make sure the operation is safe, a ground crew designates a drop zone and ensures that people are away from the area.
There are no food programme staff on the ground in East Timor, but local people have been given instructions via a satellite telephone. Yesterday's flights, which followed days of negotiations between the Indonesian President, B J Habibie, and the United Nations and the food programme, dropped 15 tons of rice- enough to feed 15,000 people for a day.
There was no immediate prospect of more flights, each of which requires permission from the Indonesian government. "It's case by case," said a UN official. The UN is also trying to get humanitarian relief to up to 150,000 East Timorese who have fled or been moved to West Timor. However, getting access to these refugees is proving difficult and dangerous.
A full-scale relief operation is not expected to get under way until the international peace-keeping force responsible for restoring order arrives in East Timor this weekend or early next week.
- 2 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 3 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 Ian Brady: Moors murderer announces his support for Ukip and the SNP
Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
Russian hack of President Obama's emails worse than previously admitted
Ian Brady: Moors murderer announces his support for Ukip and the SNP
UK weather: Britain braced for snow to replace sun as arctic air mass moves in
Nepal earthquake: US Pastor Tony Miano sparks outcry by suggesting Nepalis should not rebuild their 'pagan shrines'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...