Aid donors for East Timor concluded a two-day fundraising gathering Friday in Tokyo, pledging a total of $522 million in a three-year package to help advance the territory’s transition to independence. The meeting, the first of its kind since East Timor rejected Indonesian rule in a September referendum, was co-chaired by the World Bank and the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor, an organ to help build a new independent state in the territory. The aid package was adopted by over 50 countries and institutions that participated in the meeting to discuss ways to accelerate the nation-building process by focusing on long-term development and reconstruction efforts in infrastructure, health and education sectors. About $373 million of the pledged $522 million will be designated for development and reconstruction efforts over the next three years. Out of the $373 million, $215 million will be allocated for two trust funds, according to Jean-Michel Severino, vice president of the East Asia and Pacific Region of the World Bank.. One of the funds will be managed by the World Bank to finance reconstruction projects, and the other to be managed by UNTAET for improved governance and human resources development, Severino told a news conference. In response to appeals for humanitarian aid issued by the U.N., some $149 million of the $522 million will be provided in humanitarian assistance for East Timor, of which Japan will contribute $30 million. “The goal (of the meeting) was to seek funding for humanitarian assistance, and long-term development and reconstruction for governance and public administration in East Timor,” Severino said. “It is a great pleasure to report that all these goals have been met and even exceeded.” Xanana Gusmao, East Timor’s independence leader and head of the National Council of Timorese Resistance, expressed gratitude for the financial assistance and renewed his resolve to advance the nation-building process in East Timor. “I have fought for the liberty of East Timor for the last 24 years,” Gusmao said. “East Timorese are now facing new challenges. It is our responsibility to work together to respond to the expectations of the international community and our aid donors.” Among the aid donors, Japan formally announced an offer of $100 million toward the package to meet long-term reconstruction and development needs of the devastated territory. Japan’s latest pledge is in addition to $200 million in aid contributions for East Timor to date, including $100 million to a multinational force deployed there to restore order, refugee assistance and financial contributions to UNTAET.
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