My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (

Friday, May 27, 2005

Tsunami relief stuck in a quagmire..

It takes more than money to help people.
The generosity of millions of Britons who gave money to help the victims of the Boxing Day tsunami is being betrayed by Sri Lanka's army of bureaucrats.

They have reduced the international aid effort to "a complete and utter mess", The Daily Telegraph has established.

Five months after the tsunami struck, killing 40,000 and leaving 500,000 homeless in Sri Lanka, more than 100,000 of the poorest victims are still living in tents or crude temporary shelters.

Despite almost unlimited resources - the relief fund stands at more than £1.75 billion for Sri Lanka alone - victims are cooped up in camps waiting for news of progress that never seems to come.

Aid agencies keen to press on with rebuilding are being frustrated at every turn by the tangled and all-embracing bureaucracy of the central government. Shipping containers remain stuck at ports, vital building plans await approval and incompetent officials ignore the advice of specialists.

This week, as the first monsoon rains arrived, agencies were striving to move thousands of people out of their tents and into solid shelters before camp sites turned into quagmires.

After months during which the situation has deteriorated and no one has spoken out for fear of upsetting the highly sensitive government, the World Bank finally broke cover this week.

Praful Patel, its vice president, said: "There is impatience on the part of everybody, including the government and the donors, about the pace at which things are moving.

"The pledges that were made and the money that was made available are not moving fast enough."

A charity boss described the situation as "a complete and utter mess" which will deteriorate further if swift action is not taken to improve the flow of aid.

The case of Merlin, the charity backed by Telegraph readers, is typical of the daily frustrations that aid agencies encounter. Despite signing an agreement two months ago to rebuild seven health facilities, the government-appointed committees required to give the final say-so have yet to meet for the first time.