28 February 2009

East Timor Governments holds Public Consultation on draft National Policy on Social and Humanitarian Assistance

MINISTRY OF SOCIAL SOLIDARITY PRESS RELEASE 25 February 2009 MSS holds Public Consultation on draft National Policy on Social and Humanitarian Assistance - On 24 February 2009, the National Directorate of Social Assistance in the Ministry of Social Solidarity held a consultation seminar on the draft National Policy on Social and Humanitarian Assistance. The objective of this seminar was to hear opinions and suggestions on the draft policy for in order to finalise and begin implementation of the policy during 2009.

At the opening of the seminar, the Minister of Social Solidarity, Maria Domingas Fernandes Alves said “through the implementation of this policy, the Ministry hopes to come closer to achieving one of the goals of the IV Constitutional Government of Timor-Leste – that is, to provide social protection to vulnerable groups and vulnerable people in Timor-Leste.”

The Director for Social Assistance, Amandio Amaral Freitas, explained that “the draft social and humanitarian assistance policy aims to safeguard the welfare of the population and improve their living conditions and livelihoods, especially those who are poor and most vulnerable, to meet their basic needs and to develop and promote human dignity and ensure greater social equity.”

As has been noted in many recent reports, poverty is still widespread in Timor-Leste. MSS, together with its donors and partners, is working hard to eradicate extreme poverty for the most vulnerable people in Timor Leste, through its social assistance and humanitarian assistance programmes including:

* MSS social pensions reduce poverty for the elderly & disabled & veterans
* Food assistance to vulnerable families including widows, orphans, disabled and elderly reduces incidence of hunger and food insecurity
* Planned social housing for disabled and elderly living alone to improve living conditions
* Providing shelter and food assistance for displaced persons and victims of natural disasters

At the seminar, productive discussions were held on why further social and humanitarian assistance should be provided, the types of assistance that are necessary, as well as the criteria for determining beneficiaries, and the modes of implementation. DNAS will take into account the contributions of participants in amending the draft policy before sending it out to interested parties for further comments.

In closing the seminar, the Secretary of State for Social Assistance and Natural Disasters, Jacinto Rigoberto Gomes, thanked participants for their useful ideas, opinions and suggestions towards drafting a practical Policy for Social and Humanitarian Assistance. “Implementation of this policy will ensure MSS is well equipped to achieve National Priority 4 of 2009 – social protection and social services. In line with the aims of the 4th Constitutional Government Program, implementation of a good Policy for Social and Humanitarian Assistance will also help reduce social inequalities, and contribute to a significant improvement of the Timorese welfare level.”

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