Comment: Corruption must not taint PK relief funds

I was responsible for looking after one of the largest disaster programmes in the Maldives following the tsunami.

I was one of the members in the decision making body of Action Aid International of a 30 million pound Tsunami Rehabilitation and Reconstruction multi-country programme in Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Maldives, Indonesia and Somaliland.

Immediately after tsunami, I went with UNDP teams, Oxfam, Red Cross and other disaster teams to conduct initial disaster assessments. It was a time consuming, trying process to assess the damage done by the tsunami and identify the needs of people.

No group of people, community or country wanted the same things. It was hectic, tiring and required extensive development to help the survivors.

I wonder why the PK Relief fund is deliberating and has announced it will be sending a there member team to Pakistan. They were careful to announce that they will not spend money from the PK Relief funds for the visit, but in same breath they said that they will raise funds for the visit to Pakistan.

This sounds same thing to me – they will be using the name of the PK Relief fund to raise funds, which is akin to spending PK Relief money. I think this is a waste of resources and energy as the money should be donated to the Government of Pakistan.

Providing disaster relief is a technical and difficult task, and requires experts to conduct a disaster assessment. The processes require conducting an assessment of the damage, identifying the needs of the people as well as the infrastructure.

It’s futile to think that a team who has no knowledge and understanding of the country, the extent of damage, the culture and the people can decided on what or where to donate.

The best experts will be the Government of Pakistan or the international parties who are already on the ground in Pakistan evaluating the situation of the floods, such as the UN, Pakistan Red Crescent, Pakistan Action Aid or others. Another possibility is through the Maldivian High Commission based in Pakistan – all these agencies are based in Pakistan and would have firsthand knowledge.

Maldives do not require a team from PK Relief Fund to go to Pakistan.

What PK Fund should plan is how to keep track of how the fund is being spent. Monitor and request whether the funding has reached to the neediest. PK fund can make the Government of Pakistan accountable through good governance and monitoring mechanisms.

Publish the information received from Government of Pakistan and international stakeholders, making it accessible to the citizens of the Maldives at regular intervals, after donating the funds.

I would advise the PK Relief not send a team to Pakistan and hand over the money to the Ambassador of Pakistan. I would also request a public outcry against this proposed action by the PK relief fund Committee, for contemplating such disastrous action on behalf of the Maldivians who donated the funds without expert knowledge of the issue.

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Storm in Addu Atoll causes floods, RF millions in damages

A storm has hit Addu causing islands to flood and severely damaging houses and property on several islands.

Addu Atoll Councilor Abdulla Sadiq said that Gan, Maradhu, Maradhufeydhoo and Feydhoo were flooded due to the torrential rain,’’ Sadiq said, adding that Feydhoo was the most severely damaged with almost 600 houses affected.

70 houses in Maradhufeydhoo and 10 houses in Maradhu were also damaged in the flood, according to Sadiq.

“Almost 80 percent of the houses in Feydhoo were damaged, including property, and some are now inadequate for living,’’ said Sadiq. “People have been forced to move to their relatives’ houses.’’

In Maradhufeydhoo all the computers in the island school, the school library and the school office were damaged, Sadiq said.

The weather forecast for the area showed steady rain for the next few days as well, he added.

“We are trying to drain the floodwaters and settle the situation,’’ he said.

Although Gan was also flooded, the island has a good drainage system and the streets will drain automatically, he added.

He also estimated that the damage was set to rise to millions of ruffiya.

Meanwhile, the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Southern Area reported that the airport and airport office of Gan in Addu were damaged, including the computers and some furniture inside the office.

The MNDF is are now active on the flooded islands and trying to drain the floodwaters.

Deputy Director General of the National Meteorological Department Ali Shareef said the whole of the Maldives will experience heavy rain during the next 24 hours.

”North and central Maldives will experience strong winds and heavy rain,” said Shareef, adding that the Addu Atoll would likely be spared the strong winds and heavy rain that would affect other parts of the country.


Adhaalath party urges assistance for flood victims in Pakistan

The Adhaalath Party continues to urge Maldivians to provide assistance for flood victims in Pakistan

In a statement issued today, the party said that Muslims “should provide humanitarian aid when an Islamic country is in trouble.”

“Due the heavy rain to Pakistan, more than 20 million people have become homeless, crops have been damaged, and apart from the starvation caused, diseases such as cholera and flus are now widespread,’’ said the party. “The concerned authorities revealed that there are more than 3.5 million children among the victims.’’

The Adhaalath Party recently launched a fund for the provision of humanitarian aid for flood victims in Pakistan.

“The likeness of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah, is as the likeness of a grain (of corn); it grows seven ears, and each ear has a hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He wills. And Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, all-Knower,’’ the statement said, citing to Quran.

Vice President of the Maldives Dr Mohamed Waheed recently visited the Pakistan High Commission in the Maldives and expressed sympathy for the flood victims.

During his visit, Dr Waheed appealed to Maldivian citizens to support assistance to the victims of the flood.

Prohibited militant groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad and Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami, have set up camps in Karachi to raise funds to help flood victims of Pakistan, according to Indan news paper Times of India.

According to the newspaper, other militant groups such as Jamaat-ud-Dawah, blamed by India for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Sipah-e-Sahaba, Harkatul Mujahideen, Hizbut Tahrir and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi are also engaged in the relief operations.

The paper said that the banned groups were working under different names.

The World Bank has recently said it will redirect $US900 million of its existing loans to Pakistan to help in flood recovery.

The European Union (EU) has also said it will offer US$70 million to Pakistan.