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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 82

Maldives: Crisis in the Recovery following Tsunami

Male, 26 December, ( There are serious shortcomings in the reconstruction projects taking place in the Maldives at present. The international aid organizations and the Government of Maldives need to address these issues immediately.

Following the survey ‘Maldives Aid’ conducted a year ago, few of the issues and concerns raised in the Maldives Aid report have been addressed.

There remains a serious problem with communications and the flow of information to the Internally Displace Persons (IDPs’). IDPs have a right to know when and how they will be given permanent housing. The Government of Maldives has a duty to inform and communicate with the Islanders of the progress of the re-housing projects.

In some cases the IDP committees are non-functional or have issues with the IDC (Island Development Committees). Internal corruption in some islands leaves the victims frustrated and helpless. Often relatives and close friends of the island Chiefs are being given priority in situations like distribution of aid donations, food, money and even reconstruction of houses.

Sector findings:-

- Meemu Atoll Kolhufushi: 800 plus IDP’s live in temporary shelters and 50 houses were to be reconstructed by Red Cross. Reconstruction work was ongoing when Maldives Aid visited the island last year November. According to the island office, the work has been stopped and there is no news of when or whether it is going to re-commence. This situation leaves 800 or so displaced persons living in inadequate short-term temporary housing.

- Meemu Atoll Muli: Repair work has been stopped on 103 houses in this island due to a problem with getting the funds to the relevant people. This concerns UNDP and Island Development Committee.

- Meemu Atoll Dhiggaru: The reclaimed land has been washed away with the sea wall by the tsunami. Unfortunately this has resulted in houses being too close to the sea and during the monsoon season the waves will again destroy housing. There is an ongoing erosion of the island. The island office has taken up this issue with relevant authorities in the government but to no avail.

- Thaa Atoll Madifushi: Among the 54 houses the British Red Cross is reconstructing, 24 houses have been handed over to the IDPs’. 72 houses meant to be constructed by the government of Maldives have not yet started construction. There is widespread unhappiness with the 119 IDPs’ that remain in temporary shelters, living in cramped conditions.

- Thaa Atoll Omadhoo: although there are no IDPs on Omadhoo there was extensive damage to the islands electrical system when the Tsunami hit the island. Throughout the period since the Tsunami the islanders have repaired the electrical system themselves. It is believed the electrical system is now dangerous. The island community has written on numerous occasions to the relevant authorities for assistance and, after 2 years, there is still no help forthcoming.

- - Laamu Atoll Kalhaidhoo: some of the IDP’s from this island are living at camps in Gan. The rest are still living with families and friends. The government has promised to repopulate the whole island to Gan however there is still no news when the new houses are going to be reconstructed for them in Gan. The IDP’s themselves doesn’t want to repair the damages to their houses in Kalhaidhoo since it might be a waste of money if they are moved to Gan.

- Haa Alif Filladhoo: Tsunami victims from 7 houses are still residing with families and friends in this island. Money to repair these houses has still not been distributed to these people and recently the community of this island held a protest at the island office shutting it down for over a week and demanded they resolve the matter and distribute the money equally and fairly.

- Hulhumale: It remains of real concern to Maldives Aid the condition in which Tsunami victims are living in the temporary and inadequate housing.. There has been little improvement in their condition even though this was highlighted in the Maldives Aid Report a year ago.

Maldives Aid calls upon the Government of Maldives to get organized and address the appalling rate of recovery following the Tsunami. The Maldives is a tiny country with a tiny population of IDPs’, there is no excuse for this small number of people to still be living in temporary shelters.

Maldives Aid also calls upon the International Aid Organizations and community to engage more fully with the Government of Maldives and to steer them to complete their obligations and promises with regard to re-housing the Tsunami victims.

- Asian Tribune -

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