17 July, 2019

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Looting Tsunami Aid & Last Week’s Disaster; Will Foreign Aid Reach Victims?

By Latheef Farook

Latheef Farook

Latheef Farook

Will foreign aid reach victims of last week’s natural disaster? Many raise this question following looting of tsunami aid

Will the foreign aid flowing into the country following torrential rains, widespread floods, landslides and gale force winds since 14 May 2016 reach their victims?

This is the question raised by many circles in view of the heartless looting of billions of dollars of tsunami aid allegedly by politicians, bureaucracy and others involved.

Almost twelve years after the tsunami today there are Muslim victims in the east living in make shift camps ignored by the government, authorities and their own politicians. Five hundred houses built by Saudi government for Muslim tsunami victims continue to rot and fall apart in dilapidated states with the entire complex being turned into a virtual jungle.

Though the government changed the bureaucracy almost remain the same. In fact Minister Kabir Hashim even filed a case against then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa accusing him of playing out tsunami aid. However it is common knowledge that one could not expect justice from politicised judiciary under Rajapaksa regime.mahinda

Thus the suspicion whether the foreign aid for recent victims of natural disaster will end up in the same fate?

During tsunami disaster then President Kumaratunga, who was in London, rushed home and assured that their houses would be rebuilt within six months. But these promises disappeared in the same way of the tsunami waves, despite billions of rupees given by countries, organizations and individuals to help tsunami victims.

While tsunami victims were languishing in appalling conditions in inhospitable temporary shelters, there began to emerge reports of corruption highlighting to what extent human beings could descend in exploiting even human misery and sufferings for their own benefit.

According to a report by the then Auditor-General, S.C. Mayadunne, “government officials misspent or misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of tsunami aid after failing to follow instructions. Officials gave millions of rupees in tsunami assistance to thousands of families who were not directly affected while others displaced by the tsunami did not even get the rations they were entitled to”.

According to reports Sri Lanka received 3.2 billion dollars in foreign aid pledges.

Tsunami waves did not discriminate on the basis of race, caste, religion, colour, language or any such artificial barriers. Instead, proving that nature doesn’t pick and choose to destroy, these waves from the very same sea which generously provided them livelihood for generations wiped out all alike without any discrimination.

However there was blatant racism in helping tsunami victims on the basis of race and religion.

In the absence of proper account-keeping, many believe that only a fraction of the aid actually went to the real victims and it was impossible to track down what happened to the cash. Official figures are often contradictory, but even the state admits only about half of the damaged or destroyed homes have been rebuilt as the country marked the tragedy’s second anniversary.

“God only knows whether the money was spent on tsunami victims or anybody else! The government accused non-governmental organizations for the slow progress and it is like the pot calling the kettle black, and there has been large-scale corruption in delivering aid,” said a top TEFREN executive who pointed out that local and international charities, numbering nearly 400, were flooded with donations and overwhelmed by the unprecedented funding while many NGOs wasted the money.

“Some who were not even affected by the tsunami got houses. Some got two or three boats while others did not get any. They put too much emphasis on urgency and did not adhere to accounting standards. The tsunami in many ways was a blessing in disguise to the government.

Under the headline “Merry times for tsunami racketeers” this is what a report  in the “Island” of 26 December 2006 said, “Even years after the tsunami, the government is yet to punish State officials accountable for waste, corruption and negligence in the aftermath of the unprecedented natural disaster.

“Inquiries reveal that the government has failed to initiate action against them despite clear evidence of wasteful expenditure on a large scale. Politicians have connived with officials to help their supporters play out funds and in some cases, further the interests of their associates. They have profited from crooked deals involving crooked means, hiring of vehicles and compensation for damaged and destroyed houses.

“The then ruling coalition ignored an interim report by the Auditor General’s Department, which details a series of irregularities. The report has dealt with questionable transactions. It is critical of lapses on the part of the General Treasury, Central Bank and the Customs. Under a section titled Limitation on Procuring Information for Audit, the Auditor General (AG) has said that the Central Bank ignored a call to provide information on tsunami funds. The AG’s Department has been particularly harsh on several Divisional Secretariats in the East and South. This report is still gathering dust. The report called for an in-depth police investigation. Unfortunately, the Rajapaksa government ignored that call, and thereby allowed a group of corrupt officials and their political masters to go scot free.”

Many who were awaiting aid said that they didn’t know where the aid money went but they were still living in single room wooden houses. According to one report, money was feverishly transferred not only to government establishments, but also to accounts of individuals, companies and charity organisations; so much so that a report by The Tsunami Evaluation coalition (TEC), under former US President Bill Clinton, suggested that Sri Lanka was over-aided and the island should be the best and the most efficiently reconstructed.

Sri Lanka’s deputy executive director of the anti-graft organisation Rukshana Nanayakkara said: “it was almost impossible to find out what happened to the cash. According to an initial government audit only 13 percent of the aid was spent during the first year of reconstruction, but since then there has been no formal examination of accounts.” Hundreds of tsunami survivors had complained to the graft buster against local and international aid agencies. He added that, “there has been no proper accounts maintained on the aid money and we believe that only a fraction of the aid trickled down to the real victims”.

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Latest comments

  • 1
    9

    Sinhala racists where are you! How can you allow this [Edited out] to highlight some imaginary grievances of Muslims?

    • 4
      0

      The question to ask is Where have all the funds gone?

      The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Red Cross after the 2004 Asia Tsunami spent billions on CAPACITY BUILDING for so called Disaster Prepardeness, COORDINATION, transparency and accountability and training and Drills in Sri Lanka and affected counties and the region.

      These Humanitarian Disaster capitalists live off misery of others and make Big Bucks while playing blame game with corrupt third world governments like that of Mahinda Jarapassa during Tsunami time.

      BOTH the Government institutions and international organizations that do so-called “CAPACITY BUILDING” for disaster preparedness in low income countries have failed Sri Lanka in the current disaster, as they continue to do all over the world.

      The United Nations World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in Istanbul is going to be another expensive joke. No serious questions will be asked about Where has all the money gone, spent over the years on disaster reduction?!

      WHS report says that only 4 percent of aid goes to local institutions! What is the cost benefit of UNDP’s huge sums spent for environmental disaster prepardness and prevention? Who is monitoring and evaluating and preventing corruption in waste of funds in these organizations which should have helped develop the Institutional and Management and governance structures and expertise to COORDINATE RELIEF and AID?

      Today, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Disaster Management and its Donors are a Disaster! Big JOKE! The blame game between the corrupt Sri Lanka politicians and their cronies who lack any expertise who run the Ministry of Disaster Management and the equally corrupt international organizations will continue after WHS!
      Long live Humanitarian Corruption and Disster Capitalism!

  • 10
    1

    Oh! Isn’t that funny?

    Aren’t we a nation inhabited by millions of people who scream from their roof-tops about those world-class faiths they claim to follow:
    1. Buddhism
    2. Hinduism
    3. Christianity
    4. Islam

    Hmmm…what a bunch of lyin’, manipulating thieves we are!

    We even steal from the sick, the injured, the poor & the devastated.

    A very “pious” nation indeed.

    Cheers!

    • 3
      0

      Ben Hurling

      “Aren’t we a nation inhabited by millions of people who scream from their roof-tops about those world-class faiths they claim to follow:”

      ….and have a national average IQ of 79?

      National IQ Scores – Country Rankings

      Rank=28 Sri Lanka IQ=79

      The following:
      1. Buddhism
      2. Hinduism
      3. Christianity, and
      4. Islam

      cannot change that. It is in the Para genes!

      • 3
        0

        You are right. All the parliamentarians have this para genes. Also they have many things in common after taking oaths.

  • 9
    1

    Helping Hambantota man! His direct families, indirect families and all their cronies all helped themselves. Look at their finances now! It is sad that Mahinda’s Kurakkan Samagama still has some followers!!!

    /Almost twelve years after the tsunami today there are Muslim victims in the east living in make shift camps ignored by the government, authorities and their own politicians/

    Muslim population almost manhandled Hakeem this time. All Muslim leaders took turn to be in the senior roles in the government. But the stupid people continued to support them.

    Look at the East! Sampanthan offered SLMC the government. SLMC itself wanted to take the offer. But Hakeem went against the wishes of the people and the goodwill of Tamils, dedicated the government of Eastern Province to Mahinda. People still trust him! As they say you get the government that you deserve.

  • 4
    1

    Unfortunately that is Srilanka. What can be done. Politicians of SL know that the society has been corrupted and can be bought over. So they have and are cashing on it. Unless the younger generation rise up and fight against it we are doomed. What we need now is an uprising similar to the seventies JVP.
    AllahU Akbar

  • 5
    1

    Latheef Farook –

    RE: Looting Tsunami Aid & Last Week’s Disaster; Will Foreign Aid Reach Victims?

    Your Question: “Will foreign aid reach victims of last week’s natural disaster? Many raise this question following looting of tsunami aid”

    “Will the foreign aid flowing into the country following torrential rains, widespread floods, landslides and gale force winds since 14 May 2016 reach their victims?”

    Thank you for raising the question early. Please send the Tsunami Horas Report to all the foreigners giving aid.

    Only 3.5% will reach the Victims. 96.5% will reach somebody else.

    So, Tell the foreigners to establish Escrow accounts, and that the Aid can be given only directly to the victims, or their contractors, approved by 2 or 3 levels of app rovers, who are unlikely to be bribed.

    One of the approvers has to be a respectable monk, Priest or Ulama. At least the foreigners may have some satisfaction, they can put the fear of God or after life in not cheating.

  • 5
    1

    I am going to remind all the readers a top secret that you may not known-
    Did you hear about the ”Helping Hambantota” and how may millions swindled by the Rajapakse and brought him enough fund for his propaganda machine to roll 24/7 during the presidential election campaign that at the end of the day brought victory at the election?

    By helping Hambantota (his own folks) he himself helped very much and later robbed the nation to its very foundation with the help of Rajapakse brothers !!!

    Is it still a secret or no more???? A picture on the article make me to suspect it is no more!!!

  • 7
    1

    Rohan,

    Helping Hambanthota is the brain child of Willie Gamage – the long time closest friend of Mara family. I know well, Willie created the NGO named “Helping Hambantota”. Later he was well rewarded by Mara and Gota for not only creating the bogus NGO outfit and helping Mara pilfer Tsunami funds (80 million rupees), but also defending Mara on this case throughout. Later, Willie Gamage was appointed additional Secretary to Defence and Secretary to Basil’s Econ. Development Ministry through which he helped Mara family steal more and more and received a good share of the stolen wealth. Now Willie is a multi-billionaire owning 17 luxury houses in Colombo, hotels in Dubai (jointly with Namal) and thousands of acres of apple and wine orchards in Austria.

    • 1
      1

      Mahinda,Gota and Basils wives havr two [Edited out]

  • 0
    1

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 2
    0

    I am sure.. history will repeat (by another set of thieves this time). Look at Ravi Karunanayake face these days…. He is salivating:-)

  • 0
    0

    Hi. Can I start “helping Dematagoda” to pilfer the aid coming to rebuild the shanties.
    Is it was good for MR then why is it not good for me.

  • 0
    0

    Mr.Farook
    That is the question I was pondering about. Several countries are funding in cash as humanitarian aid for the flood victims. Will these amounts be accounted for and whether it will reach those people affected in the floods is the key question. for example European Union is funding 200,000 euros in cash and similarly many other countries are funding for the relief in cash besides with many items of food , medicine and shelter.
    One has to wait and see.

  • 0
    0

    President Sirisena and Prime minister
    Please see to it that MR and his gang
    are not allowed to steal the monies sent by various countries in the same
    way they stole the tsunami aid.They are such crooks they cannot be trusted!

  • 0
    0

    1-2-3-4 all are intermingled with sin and corruption.

  • 2
    1

    Don’t stress mate.

    Now these funds are all in good hands.

    Galleon Ravi, his Brother in Law , your own Batthudeen who is in Wilpattu, Bodhi Siir’s brothers, Malik, the Singaporean , Aloysious, Anura Kumara, M..F.. Harin, Sajith, SB, Field Marshall and even Mervyn are all trust worth squeeky clean souls who have good records looking after money and helping the needy.

    And even that Fat Boy Minister can be called upon if you need more help.

    May be you can recommend a few too from your lot. How about Nazeer , who speaks English too.

    No wonder our Navy Commander in Sampoor was still smiling even when the Wahabi rude finger was pushing against his chest.

    I feel sorry for the poor school girl who got slapped.

    You should perhaps demand an apology on behalf of the Wahabis…

  • 1
    0

    KASmaalam

    “No wonder our Navy Commander in Sampoor was still smiling even when the Wahabi rude finger was pushing against his chest.”

    What was he doing in the school anyway?

    He should be sailing his boat and chasing your illegal Indian fisherman away from these shores. He must be hiding behind these school kids from those bottom trawling Kallathonies.

    Are you with the kallathonie bottom trawlers or with the people? If you are with the people, demand the Navy man to board his boat paddle to the North and catch and kick some bottom trawling a***s.

    • 0
      0

      Dear Native,

      Who are Modi’s Balls ******s. Bodhi Sira ?.. Batalanda Ranil ? Both ?,

      Or do they take in turn..

      BTW Your Vellalal CM is soooooo happy that JJ got in.

      Vellala CM is ecstatic according to Tamilnet.

      I reckon your CM is clever , JJ got more Balls than Batta and Bodhi put together.

      You reckon he got the hots too…I bet he wouldn’t mind bottom trawling ..

  • 1
    0

    The generosity of western aid donors must have overwhelmed Mr. Farook. Hence the title “….Will Foreign Aid Reach Victims?”

    USA, the most generous western donor, has pledged US $50,000 or 73 million rupees or 18 rupees per person (based on 400,000 impacted). Like Mr Farook, I too am overwhelmed by this generosity.

    Pakistan, one of Sri Lanka’s long standing friends, gave a military field hospital, which is a more practical need.

    The question that needs to be asked in not whether non-existent foreign money reached victims but why the Government bungled the relief effort so badly. It is universally accepted that large scale relief efforts need to be coordinated and that military institutions are best placed to coordinate these type of efforts. Examples from US and India abound. Sri Lanka’s army, which is over 200,000, has the infrastructure, personnel and logistics capability to undertake such an effort. They were sidelined and instead what the victims got were hollow words and nothing else. How is stopping land reclamation going to help someone whose house is half submerged ?

  • 1
    0

    Mr. Farook you say”Almost twelve years after the tsunami today there are Muslim victims in the east living in make shift camps ignored by the government, authorities and their own politicians. Five hundred houses built by Saudi government for Muslim tsunami victims continue to rot and fall apart in dilapidated states with the entire complex being turned into a virtual jungle’

    Mr. Farook are you aware quote “Arab News: Alwaleed Philanthropies (AP), chaired by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, is donating $1 million to provide support to those affected by the recent floods and landslides that have caused devastation in Sri Lanka.

    The announcement comes as delegates from 175 countries gather in Istanbul today for the opening of the first ever World Humanitarian Summit.

    While the Chinese Covt donated 1.5 million Dollars this individual has donated 1 million Dollars(app Rs 147 million Rupees).This news was not given the publicity it deserves.I hope these funds also will not suffer the same fate as the saudi Houses dinated during the Tsunami

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