Home > News > Tsunami Strikes > Report
Who will distribute all the aid pouring in?
George Iype in Cuddalore |
December 29, 2004 14:29 IST
As relief material pours into Tamil Nadu from all parts of the country for tsunami victims, one question uppermost in the minds of relief workers is -- will all this reach the people it is meant for?
Three days after the killer tsunami waves killed hundreds of people and flattened villages, relief agencies have been overwhelmed by the amount of relief material arriving every day -- blankets, food packets, clothes, utensils and medicines.
Also see: Tsunami deaths mount to 60,000
Relief workers in the Cuddalore-Nagapattinam belt, one of the worst hit in the state, say they do not have enough manpower to distribute the material.
"Dead bodies can be buried. But what will we do with the relief material that is coming in? Who will distribute food and clothes to the survivors?" an angry aid worker, who has spent two sleepless nights at a relief camp, asks.
Rows of trucks with relief material waiting to be unloaded is a common sight in the two districts.
Interview: 'India didn't ask, so we can't come' | Complete Coverage
"It is going to be a huge effort. If not coordinated well, it will be a double tragedy," a Cuddalore district official says.
Survivors are spread over a very large area and with roads washed off by tsunami waves, it's not easy to reach far-flung villages.
As of now, volunteers have been concentrating on relief camps. But eventually, they will have to fan out to villages and tiny fishing communities. And that's where lies the problem -- there aren't enough volunteers to cover the vast expanse of destruction brought about by the sea.
In some villages, survivors don't even have enough to eat. "I got a piece of bread yesterday. They said they are bringing in food, but nothing has come here," says Chinnamani, a fisherwoman who has lost her husband, a son and their house in the tragedy.
Also see: Aussies donate prize money for relief
And this is just the beginning, rehabilitation is going to be a bigger challenge.
Seetharaman, a fisherman, has lost his wife, two children and their house to the waves. He believes it will be impossible for him to catch fish again in the sea that has destroyed his life. "How can I go back to the sea for fishing? The sea killed my wife and children. I do not want to fish again...where will I live now?" he asks.
"Rebuilding houses and rebuilding lives should be the biggest priority in these relief operations," says K Ganapathy, who heads Social Action Group, a voluntary agency, in Cuddalore.
"A bigger tragedy awaits us if we falter in rehabilitation work. The survivors are in a state of hopelessness and helplessness...they need support," he adds.
"We want to help them piece together their lives. But how long will it take, I do not know," Ganapathy says.