Timor-Leste’s struggle for independence from 25 years of Indonesian rule came at a heavy cost. Some 100,000 people died during the occupation. As the Indonesian army retreated, following the vote for independence in an UN-supervised referendum in 1999, it destroyed 70% of the country’s infrastructure and forcibly displaced 300,000 people. A third of them have yet to return to their homes.
People have been left in poverty by the occupation and the difficult transition to independence. Timor-Leste is one of the poorest countries in the world – its Human Development Index is 0.502 and it is ranked 120th out of 169 countries while around 40% of the population lives in poverty. For the country’s young people there appears to be no future.
And justice has still to come to Timor-Leste. Victims of human rights abuses have not seen anyone brought to justice:
“Our hearts cannot heal because those who committed the crimes have still not been punished” says Luisa Da Jesus
This lack of justice means the country is trapped in its violent past. Cycles of violence and mistrust continue, leading to social and economic instability. That’s why Progressio has campaigned internationally for justice for Timor-Leste – and has worked on the ground in Timor-Leste to strengthen the justice system.
We’re also working to build the capacity of the Timorese people to develop their fledgling nation.
Progressio Development Workers collaborate closely with local NGOs and community-based organisations to help them deliver better services to local communities. We work in a variety of areas, including environmental issues, community empowerment and participation, sustainable livelihoods, climate adaptation, interfaith initiatives, conflict resolution, peace building, small enterprise development, literacy and numeracy, the promotion of women’s rights and participation, raising awareness regarding gender based and domestic violence, and HIV/AIDS prevention and support.
Map of Timor-Leste
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