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Friday, 8 July, 2005

Maldives: Government Blocking Tsunami Aid Effort

David Hardingham, of the Salisbury-based NGO Friends of Maldives has appealed to the British people to pressure the Government of Maldives to allow FOM aid to reach tsunami victims.

Speaking on BBC Radio’s Breakfast Show on Wednesday, Hardingham said: “We urge people of Britain to contact the Maldivian High Commission in London and find out what is happening to our aid. Check that it’s getting through, contact your local MP and put pressure on the Maldivian government.”

He also spoke about the Maldive government’s recent decision to ban him from the country.

“[The blacklisting is hampering our aid efforts] we really need to speak to the Disaster Management Centre to work out a way we can be involved in the distribution of the last of our aid.”

“We also want to see the progress of the aid effort in the Maldives in general. Government sources have told us that only about 10% of what is needed has got through to the people… so it sounds as if the Maldives is still having huge problems.”

“About ten tones of educational aid is sitting in government warehouses in the Maldives. We have asked the Maldivian government if we can deliver the aid ourselves or be part of the aid distribution or at least ensure that it gets out to the people that need it and they have refused all our requests.”

“We are going to request as much help as possible [from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office]. We’ve got the help of a lot of MPs and the support of a lot of people.”

“The Maldivian government is a dictatorship… very corrupt and it’s very difficult to deal with them” he added.

Hardingham was in meetings with the British Foreign Office this week to explain FOM’s problems and seek diplomatic support from the UK, who now head the Presidency of the European Union.

Speaking to Minivan News yesterday, several resort owners complained that the Government of Maldives have “done nothing” to help tourism recover in the country and have been “preoccupying themselves with petty politics.”

Occupancy rates in Maldives resorts are approximately 20% down on last year, six months after the Tsunami tragedy.

(Source: Minivan News)
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