Home » Headline, News

Aid workers barred in north Lanka

[Express Buzz, Thursday, 15 July 2010 07:50 No Comment]

Aid agencies, both local and foreign, have been barred from working in waraffected North Sri Lanka pending scrutiny of their work by the Ministry of Defence.

This has caused dismay in NGO circles, generally. But aid workers who desire good governance feel that scrutiny is urgently called for, given the high degree of nonperformance and wastage in the nongovernmental aid sector.

A local aid worker told Express that on June 30, there was an order requiring NGOs working in the North to get the clearance from the Ministry of Defence through the Presidential Task Force (PTF), with which the NGOs working in the North were already registered.

The NGOs were told that they would not be allowed into Wanni, the worst affected in the 20062009 Eelam War IV, unless they had obtained fresh clearance from the Defence Ministry.

"We have a lot of materials to be distributed among the IDPs (internally displaced persons), which we cannot distribute because of this new requirement. We had applied for registration on June 30 itself, but till date, our application is pending," the aid worker, who did not want to be identified, said. "On Tuesday, there was a call from the PTF seeking our staffing pattern projectwise. I think an evaluation is being carried out," the worker said.

ENSURING PERFORMANCE: Many NGOs wonder why a Ministry of Defence clearance is required, now that the war is over. But those in the know say that the issue is not "security", but an urgent need to evaluate the work of the NGOs, many of which allegedly spend a lot of money on their own upkeep while doing precious little for war refugees, for whom the donors had sent the money.

VEHICLES OUTNUMBER STAFF: According to the head of a wellknown group of NGOs, the ratio of vehicles to staff is three to one. And these are luxury vehicles that have been imported with a duty concession. Administrative expenses, especially the huge amounts spent on the expatriate staff, outstrip what is allocated for work in the field. According to a source in an international monitoring organisation, the head of a wellknown foreign NGO is living in a house by paying a rent of SLR 3 lakh (USD 2,648) per month and moves in a huge luxury vehicle.

POOR QUALITY OF WORK: The work done by many of the NGOs leaves much to be desired in terms of quality. Some foreign prescriptions have proved to be wrong too. In the refugee camps in Vavuniya, the UN agencies had insisted on building temporary or semipermanent toilets, against the advice of local experts. No wonder these flimsy structures caved in, creating a mess.

[Full Coverage]

(For updates you can share with your friends, follow TNN on Facebook, Twitter and Google+)

Comments are closed.