Widespread flooding in Timor-Leste displaces families and disrupts COVID-19 response

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On Easter Sunday, torrential rainfall in Timor-Leste resulted in widespread flash flooding and landslides in the nation’s capital of Dili, as well as surrounding areas.

More than 36 casualties have been confirmed, and over 11,000 people have been forced to seek shelter in 19 evacuation centres. Homes, roads, and bridges have suffered significant damage, and electricity has been cut off for much of Dili.

This natural disaster comes at a time when the country is already dealing with a COVID-19 emergency. Critical infrastructure to respond to the COVID outbreak is damaged, including the national laboratory, the central medicine storage and quarantine facilities.

With children and families living in evacuation centres, there is also an increased risk of COVID transmission.

Erine Dijkstra, ChildFund Timor-Leste country director, says: “This is an emergency coming on top of an emergency. Affected families were already suffering economically from the lockdown since the beginning of March, and this disaster has added another level of hardship.

“With much of Dili under water, Timor-Leste is facing new and significant challenges in preventing further spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

ChildFund Timor-Leste is taking part in humanitarian aid coordination meetings led by the Secretariat of State for Civil Protection, with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Solidarity and Inclusion, the Red Cross, UN agencies, and other aid agencies to plan and implement emergency response activities.

This currently includes providing human resources to the assessment teams and providing families with food and non-food items (eg, hygiene packs, clothing, bedding). ChildFund will provide additional support as requested.