Survivors question management of Vice President’s donation

September 7, 2019

HURFOM: On August 9, 2019, 27 houses were damaged and 72 people died in a landslide in Ye Pyar Gone village, Thel Phyu Gone village track, Paung Township, Mon State. The Vice President and the Union Minister for the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement visited the affected area on August 12.  According to local reports, during their visit the officials wished to make a donation to each of the households that had survivors in the amount of 0.5 million Kyat.

However, when the village General Administration Department (GAD) reported on the victim data collected, they only listed 18 affected households. According to local community members, the Vice President extended support only to those families.  The village GAD then collected the donations intended for the survivors, reportedly to be re-distributed under their management.

“(The GAD) called us as we’re on the list. Some (villagers) were on the list but they’re busy with the funeral (of their deceased family members) so they didn’t go. The Administrator brought me to the GAD office by car. At the office, the Vice President gave each of us 0.5 million kyat. But when I reached outside the office, the Administrator took the donation I received. He said he would give me back later,” said Ma —–, a survivor from Ye Pyar Gone village.

The Administrator said the donation would be given back later to all family members of the landslide victims including those who had not been present to receive the donation. 

The Ye Pyar Gone Administrator U Win Zaw, said the Township GAD and the local lawmakers had an agreement related to the management of the donation.

“When the Vice President came to make a donation, we couldn’t collect [all of the information] on affected households. They’re busy with funeral but the Vice President wanted to organize a ceremony to give them the donation. So we collected [the information on] the survivors but got only five of them. [At the ceremony] 18 persons representing 18 households received the donation. But (now) we have 27 affected households so if we gave the donation to [just] those 13 families, the rest of the survivors got nothing. After discussing with the local lawmaker and the Township Administrator, the money was kept in the bank. We don’t know if the Vice President [will provide] more donations. If he does not, we’ll fairly divide the money (to all affected households),” said U Win Zaw.

The surviving families are dealing with hardships following the disaster and are eager to know how and when the donation will be distributed. 

“We’re making the list (of affected households). We’ll finalize it very soon. After that, we [will] withdraw the money from the bank, and divide it [amongst] the survivors,” said the village administrator.

The Mon State government and the Union government have committed to providing additional support to families with deceased victims.  This is reported to be 0.6 million Kyat/deceased person, but the affected families have yet to receive anything.

“The government is weak in disaster management. They’re the ones who are responsible for the disaster and besides rescue, they must have a policy related to disaster management. And, the rehabilitation is also important. The needs of the (affected) residents and supportsare really critical,” said an activist from a local community-based organization – CBO.

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