Little progress made by East Timor in 10 years

2009-09-08 19:43 BJT

Watch Video

Play Video

It has been a decade since the people of East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia in a UN-supervised referendum. Since then, billions of dollars in aid has been poured into the country, but with little improvement to people's lives.

On August 30th, 1999, more then 75 percent of voters in East Timor chose to break away from Indonesia.

On September 27th, 2002, East Timor joined the United Nations.

Since then, nearly nine-billion US dollars in assistance has been given to the country for social and economic development.

It's one of the most expensive UN led nation building projects in history.

But where has this money has been invested?

Jose Ramos-Horta, East Timorese President, said, "If that money, 3-5 billion dollars, were to have been mostly spent in East Timor, it would have transformed this country economically and socially. We would have far better infrastructures. Our telecommunication, electricity would be far better. Poverty would have been all but eliminated. This is not the case."

Duarte Beremau sleeps in a two-room, dirt-floor shack with eight family members.

It's built of rusting sheet metal and has no water, electricity or sanitation.

Beremau is illiterate and earns 10 US dollars a week at a coffee factory. All of it goes to feed the children.