.- According to Aid to the Church in Need, more than 65,000 displaced persons in East Timor have found shelter in various refugee centers, many of them linked with the Catholic Church.
Refugees of the small Southeast Asian nation have been driven from their homes in the wake of violence which broke out in late April when some 600 soldiers were dismissed from the armed forces.
More than 10,000 people have found refuge at the Salesian Center of Dili, and the Church is preparing to accommodate even more refugees in the Cathedral of Dili. “The Church is always ready to help with what is necessary,” said Mgr Alberto Ricardo da Silva, Bishop of Dili.
According to UN statistics, 100,000 people have been made homeless in the Dili region. 65,000 have found shelter in different centers and 35,000 have fled to the mountains.
East Timor’s independence was internationally recognized in May 2002. Prior to achieving independence it was considered part of Indonesia. It is one of Asia’s poorest countries and, in addition to the Philippines, the only other nation in Asia with a predominantly Catholic population.